What a weekend it will be for St. Xavier High School football coach Steve Specht.
Wednesday, the league released news that Specht will be named the winner of the Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year Award. The prestigious award will be presented Friday morning at 9 a.m. in New Orleans.
As of mid-afternoon Wednesday, Specht hadn’t been officially notified he had won the Award, so he spoke of the honor of simply being nominated by Seattle Seahawks rookie Greg Scruggs.
“I’m stunned,” Specht said. “You talk about what you try to accomplish with a program. A lot of people’s hard work goes into something like this. Just the fact I could be there to receive an award for the school is tremendous. The fact that Greg Scruggs cared enough about me is really humbling.”
The Award was named after Shula in 2010, and is given to honor high school coaches who demonstrate the integrity, achievement and leadership of Shula.
“When I got a call about being nominated it was form an administrative assistant in Seattle,” Specht said. “My first thought when I heard who it was was, ‘Oh no, what did he do?’”
He laughed, then talked about how it meant so much for Scruggs to recognize him.
“We’re trying to develop men,” he said. “Ultimately at the high school level your No. 1 goal is to take boys and develop them into men. People who are principled, men of high character, who know how important it is to give back.
“We want them to be the best they can be every single day. If they do that, the wins take care of themselves. When a young man who makes it to the pinnacle of his profession in football cares enough about the school and what we do to make that kind of nomination, it speaks volumes about what we do as coaches.”
For Specht, the award means a trip to New Orleans, where he will be a special guest of the league at Sunday’s Super Bowl and other league events.
“Cross that one off the bucket list,” he said, adding he likes the 49ers.
He has been coach of the Bombers since 2004, and won Division I State championships in 2005 and 2007, both years the Bombers went 15-0. In his nine seasons Xavier has gone 86-27.
Shula will present the award to Specht.
“He’s a legend,” Specht said. “When your name is associated however remotely with a Hall of Famer and one of the most successful coaches in the history of the NFL, it’s kind of like going to a party and looking around and seeing all these impressive people and wondering, ‘Why am I here?’”
There are Ohio connections everywhere in this award. Shula grew up in Grand River, and went to John Carroll. Specht is a Xavier High graduate. And Walsh coach Gerry Rardin won the Award before it was named after Shula. Too, St. X grad Luke Kuechly could be given the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Award. Specht will receive $10,000 for the award, St. Xavier’s football program $15,000.
“I might be accepting an award,” Specht said. “But it’s for the entire school.”