During Sunday's game against the Green Bay Packers, the Cleveland Browns named Bay High School football head coach Ron Rutt the 2017 Browns High School Coach of the Year. Throughout the season, more than 750,000 votes were submitted by Northeast Ohio youth and high school football supporters through the 2017 Browns High School Game of the Week, in association with Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM).
During a special event at Bay High School this afternoon, the Browns also surprised Rutt through the team's "10 Days of Giving" initiative with $25,000 to equip his program with new helmets (approximately 75) through the HELMETS program, a team initiative supported by University Hospitals, Xenith and the Ohio Lottery. For the first time, the $25,000 HELMETS program contribution will be presented to the Browns High School Coach of the Year in addition to the $4,500 of grants Rutt and his school have earned as this year's award recipient ($3,000 to winner, plus $1,500 for each finalist).
Additionally, Rutt will represent the Browns as Cleveland's Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year nominee. As the local honoree, he will receive an all-expenses paid trip to the 2018 Pro Bowl in Orlando, courtesy of the NFL and the Browns, and may potentially receive another $15,000 in grants for Bay High School's football program if named the NFL's national honoree.
As part of the Browns High School Game of the Week, all 14 Browns High School Coach of the Year finalists were recognized at the game this past Sunday for their commitment to developing the sport in Northeast Ohio. The Browns also make a $1,500 donation to support each finalist's football team.
Since being named head coach in 2014, Rutt has earned a 37-13 record (.740, including postseason) and has reached the playoffs each year while developing a program that finished a combined 10-40 the previous four seasons. In 2017, the Rockets finished 10-0 to post the school's first undefeated regular season since 1954 and advanced to win two playoff games.
The Bay graduate also takes great pride in his team, school and local community and is committed to their immediate and long-term success by creating a family atmosphere.
The Browns High School Coach of the Year award is based on a coach's overall body of work during the regular season and postseason after being featured in the Cleveland Browns High School Game of the Week, in association with LECOM.
Cleveland completed its eighth consecutive year of the High School Game of the Week this fall. Since the program's inception, nearly eight million votes have been submitted for weekly matchups posted on ClevelandBrowns.com, with fans deciding which game the Browns should highlight each week of the high school football season. Panel members for game selections are Browns senior staff writer Andrew Gribble and Good Karma Brands' ESPN 850 WKNR Jason Gibbs, Matt Fontana and Dave Skoczen.
HELMETS is a collaboration between the Browns, University Hospitals, Xenith and Ohio Lottery in a shared effort to enhance health and safety of young athletes through proper equipment, education and training. The program encourages and incentivizes local high school football programs throughout Northeast Ohio to strengthen their commitment to player health and safety by enrolling coaches in USA Football's Heads Up Football program. All teams registering for HELMETS must be certified or plan to become certified in USA Football's Heads Up football program, with the winner being selected at random from eligible schools. Registration for the next round of the HELMET program is available now through January via www.clevelandbrowns.com/brownsgiveback.
Through Browns Give Back, the Cleveland Browns are committed to assisting the development, safety and growth of youth and high school football throughout Northeast Ohio with year-round programming for players, coaches, officials and parents. Through camps, clinics and other initiatives, the Browns' goal is to promote healthy, social, emotional, intellectual and physical development of youth by enhancing opportunities for youth football participation and education.
For more information, visit www.ClevelandBrowns.com/brownsgiveback and follow @BrownsYouthFB for all items related to youth and high school football.
2017 Cleveland Browns High School Coach of the Year finalists:
Record (incl. postseason)
Record (regular season)
*Denotes 2017 High School Coach of the Year