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Matt Dennison honored as the 2023 Cleveland Browns High School Coach of the Year

Dennison serves as the head coach of the Canton South High School football program

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As the Cleveland Browns celebrated Play Football at their home game against the Jaguars on Dec. 10, they had a special surprise pregame.

The Browns brought Canton South High School football coach Matt Dennison onto the field and announced him as the High School Coach of the Year. Then Ohio Cat President Ken Taylor presented Dennison with the certificate – which was signed by Executive Vice President of Football Operations and GM Andrew Berry and HC Kevin Stefanski – honoring him as the High School Coach of the Year. Ohio Cat serves as the presenting partner for High School Game of the Week during the high school football season.

"It is an incredible honor to be named Browns Coach of the Year after an historic season for our team," Dennison said. "I am so proud of our players and community for coming together to make this season one to remember. Football is a large part of the culture in Northeast Ohio from high school games on Friday nights to the Browns on Sunday."

Members of his Canton South High School football team joined him on the field to congratulate their head coach and be a part of the celebration. Then, they all had a chance to be a part of the gauntlet the Browns run through as they are announced pregame.

Dennison was chosen as the 2023 Cleveland Browns High School Coach of the Year for his dedication to his team, school and community. The Canton South football program will be awarded a $5,000 donation, and Dennison will have the opportunity to represent the Browns for the Don Shula NFL High School Football Coach of the Year award.

"The Browns players and coaches provide a great example for our young people which makes this award so special," Dennison said. "Thank you to the Browns for recognizing the importance of this game to the high school experience in this area and working with schools to provide great opportunities to young people."

The Browns chose Dennison not only for his achievements during the 2023 regular season, but also his overall impact as a coach. His leadership, sportsmanship, character and community involvement can serve as inspiration for those who wish to follow in his coaching footsteps. This award not only recognizes his accomplishments but also his passion, commitment and dedication to his team and community.

"I've had the pleasure of getting to know and work with Coach Dennison over the past 6 months through our Browns High School Game of the Week program," Browns Youth Football Coordinator Hannah Lee said. "The title 'coach' is one that Dennison does not take lightly. This award is a testament to Dennison's dedication and commitment to his team, school, and community."

Dennison is currently serving as the head football coach at Canton South High School, where he has a record of 32-10. Since being at Canton South, his team has won the PAC Championship in consecutive years in 2022 and 2023 and has qualified for the state playoffs every year since 2021. In 2022, his team reached the Sweet Sixteen round of playoffs. In 2023, they made it to the Elite 8. Dennison was named the PAC Coach of the Year and Stark County Coach of the Year in 2023.

Before joining Canton South, Dennison spent 18 seasons as the head football coach at New Philadelphia High School, where he racked up 140 wins and 53 losses, making him the winningest coach in the school's history. During his tenure, his team won the E.C.O.L. championship five times and made the state playoffs twelve times. In 2016, his team reached the regional finals. Then in both 2019 and 2020, they reached the Sweet Sixteen round of the playoffs.

Dennison was also the President and Vice President of the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association and served on its Board of Directors from 2008-2017. He has won numerous Coach of the Year awards, and his players have gone on to play at the college and professional levels.

Dennison's emphasis on academic success aligns with the values of the Browns, and his passion for education is evidenced by his 22 years as an English and History teacher. His background in academics has influenced his philosophy on the importance of academic achievement, as he has implemented grade checks and study tables year-round for his players.

He also implemented a program for his players to find and pursue their "E," which stands for enroll, enlist or be employed. He works to get to know each student's individual goals, and he and his staff provide tailored support to help each student achieve success on their chosen paths.

Dennison's approach to coaching is not only focused on developing skills in the game, but also on life skills that can be applied off the field. His ultimate reward as a coach is not only to see his players succeed not just in the game, but also in life. He believes that the grit and determination learned through sports can be applied in adulthood and takes pride in seeing his former players succeed in their careers and personal lives.

His dedication to his players goes beyond their time on the field. He values the relationships he builds with them and is always happy to see former players come back to visit and keep in touch. He takes pride in the fact that some of his former players have gone on to become coaches themselves, passing on the lessons they learned from him to the next generation of players.

"Coach Dennison's emphasis on academic success is truly admirable and aligns with the values of the Cleveland Browns," Lee said. "While on-field success is important, it is only a small part of an athlete's future. By prioritizing academic success, Coach Dennison sets his players up for a future far beyond their athletic careers."

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