Derrick Avery of Booker T. Washington (Georgia) named Don Shula NFL High School Football Coach of the Year

derrick avery booker t. washington high school footballPhoto from Atlanta Falcons
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For the second year in a row, a Georgia coach has won the Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year Award. Derrick Avery of Booker T. Washington High School in Atlanta is the winner of the 2020-21 award that is named in honor of the National Football League’s all-time winningest head coach.

The honor is given to the high school football coach that best represents character, integrity, leadership, dedication to the community, commitment to player protection and on-field success.

Last fall, Avery led the Booker T. Washington High School Bulldogs to a 7-3 record and a return to the postseason – a four-win improvement over the season prior.

Off the field, Avery was the first local high school coach to partner with the Falcons’ player-led social justice committee in the Rise Up & Vote campaign, which focused on voter education and participation. Throughout the fall, he made the initiative a top priority across all sports at Booker T. Washington High School.

Avery ensured all of his players, not just the eligible group working the polls, took part in various social justice conversations and voter education calls. Those who were eligible to volunteer, along with their head coach, spent time learning voting rules and regulations, watching educational videos and speaking with local legislators. On Election Day in November, eligible Booker T. Washington players volunteered at polling precincts throughout metro-Atlanta thanks to Avery’s guidance.

“I love football, I love sports, it comes naturally when you love what you’re doing. You never think about the accolades or gifts,” Avery said. “It’s an honor to be chosen. From out of 400 coaches in Georgia to the 32 outstanding coaches from the clubs, it really is an honor.”

“The Atlanta Falcons are thrilled that Coach Avery has been named the 2020 NFL Don Shula High School Coach of the Year,” Atlanta Falcons President & CEO Rich McKay said. “This past year, he was instrumental in having his team participate in the Falcons’ player-led Social Justice Committee’s Rise Up and Vote Campaign and become involved in their community on Atlanta’s westside. In addition to leading a successful group of young men on the field, Coach Avery serves as a role model for his players and fellow coaches off the field as well and truly embodies the spirit of this award.”

In partnership with Nike, Avery and Booker T. Washington High School’s football program will receive $30,000. Avery will also be invited to attend Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles.

The 2019 winner was Matt Land of Dalton High School in northwest Georgia.

Nominees for the Don Shula Award come from all 32 NFL clubs. Avery was nominated by the Atlanta Falcons.

Below are the finalists for this year’s award.

2020-2021 Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year nominees.

Arizona CardinalsRick GarretsonChandler High School
Atlanta FalconsDerrick AveryBooker T. Washington High School
Baltimore RavensEmanuel GloverReginald F. Lewis High School
Buffalo BillsDerek AnnechinoAquinas Institute
Carolina PanthersJupiter WilsonHickory Ridge High School
Chicago BearsRobert MoynihanHarlem High School
Cincinnati BengalsTrevon PendletonIronton
Cleveland BrownsMarty GibbonsLake Catholic High School
Dallas CowboysRodney McLainPoteet High School
Denver BroncosZac LemonEaton High School
Detroit LionsRob ZimmermanDewitt (MI) High School
Green Bay PackersTom ChaseRandolph High School
Houston TexansJon KayNorth Shore Senior High School
Indianapolis ColtsEric MooreCenter Grove
Jacksonville JaguarsAdam GeisSandalwood High School
Kansas City ChiefsTom RadkeSaint James Academy
Las Vegas RaidersJon HicksLas Vegas High School
Los Angeles ChargersGabriel ArellanoMontebello High School
Los Angeles RamsLorenzo HernandezGarfield High School
Miami DolphinsEarl SimsGulliver Preparatory School
Minnesota VikingsRex MetzgerHills-Beaver Creek High School
New England PatriotsManny LopezNorwood High School
New Orleans SaintsRyan GregoryOak Grove High School
New York GiantsBenjie WimberlyHackensack High School (N.J.)
New York JetsRobert GogertyCedar Grove High School
Philadelphia EaglesAl CrosbySaint John Neumann and Maria Goretti Catholic High School
Pittsburgh SteelersMark LyonsCentral Valley High School
San Francisco 49ersJoe BatesSkyline High School
Seattle SeahawksRick SteeleHockinson High School
Tampa Bay BuccaneersChris DavidsonRidge Community High School
Tennessee TitansKeith HenryCoalfield High School
Washington Football TeamEric LuddenMassaponax High School

Past Winners of the Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year Award

2020 – Derrick Avery, Booker T. Washington (Georgia), nominated Atlanta Falcons

2019 – Matt Land, Dalton HS (Georgia), nominated by the Atlanta Falcons

2018 – Gabe Infante, St. Joseph’s Prep (Pennsylvania), nominated by the Philadelphia Eagles

2017 – Robert Garrett, Crenshaw (California), nominated by the Los Angeles Chargers

2016 – Randy Allen, Highland Park (Texas), nominated by the Dallas Cowboys

2015 – Michael Burnett, Tuscarora (Virginia), nominated by the Washington Football Team

2014 – Bruce Larson, Somerset (Wisconsin), nominated by the Green Bay Packers

Bruce Larson talks about Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year Award on HSFA Radio Show

2013 – Mike Grant, Eden Prairie (Minnesota), nominated by the Minnesota Vikings

Mike Grant talks about Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year Award on HSFA Radio Show

2012 – Steve Specht, St. Xavier (Ohio), nominated by the Seattle Seahawks

2011 – John McKissick, Summerville (South Carolina), nominated by the Carolina Panthers

2010 – Ray Seals, Madison (Texas), nominated by the Houston Texans

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About the Author

Jeff Fisher
Jeff is an award-winning journalist and expert in the field of high school sports, underscored with his appearance on CNBC in 2010 to talk about the big business of high school football in America. Jeff turned to his passion for high school football into an entrepreneurial venture called High School Football America, a digital media company focused on producing original high school sports content for radio, television and the internet. Jeff is co-founder and editor-in-chief of High School Football America, which is a media partner with USA TODAY High School Sports.