Although he's already been named the 2023 Principals Athletic Conference (PAC) Coach of the Year and Stark Country Coach of the Year, Canton South High School Head Coach Matt Dennison's postseason award journey isn't finished just yet. Dennison was recently named a semifinalist for the 2023 Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year Award.
Dennison is one of 10 semifinalists for the prestigious award named after Pro Football Hall of Famer Don Shula, the winningest coach in NFL history. The coaches were selected and judged based on areas in which Shula excelled the most during his career – character, integrity, leadership, dedication to the community, commitment to player health and safety and on-field success.
Dennison was chosen as the 2023 Cleveland Browns High School Coach of the Year for his dedication to his team, school and community. He is 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, the team reached the Sweet Sixteen round of playoffs. In 2023, they made it to the Elite 8.
Dennison's coaching goes beyond the field, as he's equally as passionate about helping his players succeed in life. At Canton South, he 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.
The NFL will recognize one high school coach nominated by an AFC team and one by an NFC team in the week prior to the 2024 Pro Bowl Games. Both winners will be invited to attend the Pro Bowl Games in Orlando, FL, on Feb. 4, where they will be recognized in special ways during the NFL's week-long celebration of football. The coaches will receive VIP access and accommodations to attend the Pro Bowl Games practices for both conferences, on-field access on Sunday for the culmination of the Pro Bowl Games, and a chance to interact and engage with various members of the football community.
Additionally, the two winners will be recognized and walk the red carpet at NFL Honors on Feb. 8 and are invited to attend Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas as special guests of the NFL on Feb. 11.
To further support each coaches' impact, the NFL Foundation and Nike have teamed up to provide the two winners with a $15,000 award for their high school football programs and a $10,000 cash award. The other 30 club nominees will all receive a $1,000 cash award.
The Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year winners will be selected by a panel of distinguished judges, including Pro Football Hall of Famer and current ESPN contributor Peyton Manning, Pro Football Hall of Fame coach and current NBC analyst Tony Dungy, and Dave Shula, NFL Legend, former NFL coach and son of the late Don Shula.