The Apopka Voice does not make endorsements.
Despite reporting on and analyzing numerous Apopka and Orange County elections, we have never told readers who to vote for. Our motto is to inform the reader to the fullest extent and let them decide.
The same holds true to awards like high school football Coach of the Year awards.
We will not endorse Apopka Blue Darter head coach Jeff Rolson. We will, however, give you a brief summary of his accomplishments in the past four years
You might say, 'that's great, but this is an award for 2022, and you are citing the last four years. What has he done for us lately? That's a fair observation.
After starting the season 2-2, Rolson's Blue Darters won 9 of its last 11, games, including four playoff victories. He started a freshman quarterback, and came from behind to win eight games.
Oh, and he took that team to the state finals.
Those are the type of markers that typically signal a coach who is having a "Coach of the Year" kind of season.
The high school sports website SB Live Sports Florida is currently holding a Coach of the Year contest from the 407, 386, and 321 area codes. Coach Rolson is a nominee. We do not endorse his candidacy, but if you want to vote for him based on his accomplishments, go to the above link to vote.
Here is the article published by SBLive Sports:
Who was the best high school football head coach in the 407, 386 or 321?
For those that don’t know, those area codes dominate the Central Florida Areas and we have put together a list of the top candidates around. There was plenty of worthy candidates as head coaches work long, countless hours in getting their programs ready for the 2022 season.
Now we have a list of 11 head coaches we have identified as the lead men to pick from Brevard, Seminole, Orange, Osceola and Volusia counties.
As SBLive Sports Florida puts a ribbon on the 2022 season, we ask for your input in helping decide who is the best coach in Central Florida.
Ryan Schnieder, Cocoa: Does it get any better than winning the state championship? With the way Schnieder and his Cocoa Tigers won it, it might not get anymore thrilling. The former UCF head coach guided Cocoa to the Class 2S state championship in a 38-31 overtime thriller. Winning it all nearly automatically gets Coach of the Year nod.
Jeff Rolson, Apopka: In a year when not many expected Apopka to get back to states, they ended up proving all the naysayers wrong. Heck, they almost won a state championship in the process. Rolson navigated the Blue Darters to the Class 4M state title game and the program notched another district championship.
Travis Roland, Mainland: From winning a state title at Mainland to leading them to a state championship berth. Roland nearly pulled off the rare winning a title as a player and a head coach at the same school. The former Buccaneer player led his alma mater to the Class 3S state title game and finished as the state runner-ups.
Rick Darlington, DeLand: Pulling old tricks from the hat was Darlington with the former Apopka head coach now back in the Sunshine State. Many thought it might take a minute to get the program back to its winning ways. Think again. Darlington led the Bulldogs to a 6-5 record and qualified for the Class 4S playoffs.
Greg Odierno, Oviedo: A roll of the dice. That's the kind of coach Greg Odierno was the night of the Class 3M region quarterfinal against Wharton on a Monday night. A 2-point conversion for the win in overtime of a playoff game was a gutsy call that paid off. The Lions went 10-2 and there's optimism for more wins under Odierno.
Scott Perry, Lake Mary: Not beating a rival since 2015 was a tough pill to swallow for Scott Perry and his staff. The game planned and planned some more and figured out a way to beat Sanford Seminole once and for all. In the Class 4M playoffs, the Rams defeated the Seminoles, which became the highlight of the entire 2022 season.
Aaron Sheppard, Ocoee: As the season went along, this Knights team found their offensive swag and Sheppard had Ocoee rolling. The defense was already there for the program, but it ended up being the deep playoff run in Class 4M. Though it ended in a 41-36 loss to eventual champion Columbus, you could see the potential was there that Ocoee was a championship-level team.
Ben Bullock, Lake Highland Prep: The perfect season at 10-0 and it culminated with the SSAC state championship. Bullock led the Highlanders to a dominating season, only allowing 95 points all season long and then crushed Mount Dora Christian 44-6 in the championship game. What a run by Lake Highland under Bullock in 2022.
Cameron Duke, Edgewater: Expectations were very high for Edgewater. Like state championship kinda high. Though they fell short, credit has to be given to Duke on leading the teams to win without the services of Cedric Baxter due to injury. Having to mix it up and still win games was impressive.
Elijah Williams, Jones: Williams’ team had to take its early lumps before they were going to be a threat in Class 3M. Despite a preseason loss to Northwestern and losing out in Texas to Duncanville then returning to fall againest Edgewater, Williams got his team right. The Fightin' Tigers went on a 10-game win streak before losing in the Class 3M state semis to Homestead.
Eric Pinellas, Kissimmee Osceola: One team took the eventual Class 4S state champion Lakeland Dreadnaughts to the brink and that was the Osceola Kowboys. Pinellas had his team prepared in both matchups, just narrowly losing 14-7 in Lakeland in the state semis. Osceola finished 10-4 and faced one of the toughest schedules in the state.