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Carolina Panthers

McKissick earns NFL high school coach of year

John McKissick, who recently completed his 60th season as head football coach at Summerville (S.C.) High School, has more victories than any coach on the high school, college or pro level.

The NFL recognized McKissick for his long list of accomplishments on and off the field Friday by naming him the Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year.

"Any honor you get like this, you have to share it with all the people that you've surrounded yourself with over the years," said McKissick, age 85. "This is great for our program and our school, and we've got a town full of great fans that support us. I accept this on everybody else's behalf."

!McKissick, nominated by the Carolina Panthers for the award, was one of three finalists for the honor. His selection was announced Friday morning at a press conference in Indianapolis as a part of Super Bowl XLVI week. Shula, the winningest coach in NFL history, congratulated McKissick and presented him with the award.

McKissick earned a $15,000 grant for the Green Wave football program and a $10,000 cash reward. He will also attend the Super Bowl for the first time in his life, as a special guest of the NFL.

"Coach McKissick's legacy of leadership during his 60-year career is marked by his lifelong passion and commitment to serve others," the Carolina Panthers said in a statement. "While his win total is unsurpassed, his true contributions to our region and the thousands of student-athletes he has inspired cannot be measured. The Carolina Panthers are proud to congratulate Coach John McKissick, a deserving recipient of the Shula Award and a man who personifies the ideals the award seeks to embody."

McKissick has compiled a career record at Summerville of 594-143-13, winning 10 state championships along the way. A 1990 inductee into the National High School Hall of Fame, McKissick has coached numerous NFL players – among them Cincinnati Bengals rookie receiver A.J. Green – and he's also coached three grandsons.

"I had a couple of chances to leave early on because of our success here, but this has just been a nice place to live and raise a family and go to church," McKissick said. "When you first start out, you say, 'Well, I guess I can retire in 30 years.' Then when you get to 30, you say, 'Well, I'll go a few more.'

"I'm going to take it one year at a time, as long as the administration supports me and thinks I'm doing OK."

McKissick initially was one of 47 nominees for the award, along with four others who coach in North Carolina: Daniel Finn of Southeast Raleigh High School; Brian Paschal of D.H. Conley High School in Greenville; Robert Sapp of Mount Tabor High School in Winston-Salem; and John Worley of Hickory High School.

All nominated coaches are active or retired high school football coaches and were nominated by NFL teams and players for their character and integrity, inspirational leadership, commitment to the community and on-field success.

McKissick also will be recognized during the first "NFL Honors" awards show that will air Saturday night at 9 on NBC. The two-hour broadcast also will feature two awards for which Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is considered a frontrunner: AP Offensive Rookie of the Year and Pepsi Rookie of the Year.

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