By JOSH STROPE
Be sure to pick up a copy of the Sunday News-Register on Christmas Day to see who will be named the The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register Coach of the Year.
Linsly’s B.J. Depew led his team to a 10-0 record and is one of the leading candidates for Coach of the Year.
The annual award is voted on by the football coaches when they turn in their All-Valley nominations. Last season's winner was Shadyside's Mark Holenka.
With the regular season finishing this weekend, here a few guys (in alphabetical order) that will likely be atop the voting list:
Andrew Connor, Indian Creek
The Redskins returned to the playoffs for the first time in a long time and first time since Connor took over the program nine years ago.
Indian Creek was 6-4 last season, improving by two victories and earning the eighth seed in the Region 11 playoffs. Unfortunately, that meant having to play rival Steubenville, which ended the dream season with a 68-13 thumping at Harding Stadium.
Still, Connor definitely has Indian Creek moving in the right direction.
Chris Daugherty, Wheeling Park
Sometimes expectations can be a burden, especially when are you aren't used to having them.
Daugherty found himself in that situation as many predicted a talented Wheeling Park squad to make the playoffs, despite having won just three games in the past two seasons.
The Patriots got off to a rough start with consecutive one-point losses to New Philadelphia and Bridgeport. Daugherty kept the ship going in the right direction and Wheeling Park won seven of its last eight games to clinch a playoff berth.
Wheeling Park will travel to Cabell Midland for the first round of the playoffs Friday.
B.J. Depew, Linsly
Depew is the only coach on this list whose team didn't make the playoffs. But that is just because Linsly isn't a member of the WVSSAC.
You would be hard-pressed to find someone that wouldn't consider them the favorites if they were.
Depew guided Linsly to its first undefeated season since 1996 and an OVAC Class AA championship. The Cadets put a giant stamp on their season with a 54-18 pasting of city rival Wheeling Central.
The Cadets had to replace their starting quarterback and tailback, but Alex Stephens and Chinelo Oparanozie filled those roles nicely, scoring at an average of 42.5 points per game.
Tony Filberto, Oak Glen
Oak Glen is returning to the playoffs Saturday at Roane County.
Filberto had to replace all-everything tailback Chance Rowland, as well as the versatile Shane Koper.
No problem. He just plugged in Lucas McDowell and Dylan Davis and let the offensive line do their thing.
Probably the smartest decision Filberto made was taking in Jeff Hissam. The senior returned six kicks for scores during his first year on the team.
Brett McLean, St. Clairsville
One of the more dynamic offenses this season belonged to St. Clairsville behind first-year quarterback Matt Kinnick, the rushing of Jaylon Brown, and standout receivers Jerrid Marhefka, Dan Monteroso, Michael Ferns, and Ben Evick.
Of those six players, Evick is the only senior. The Red Devils were way ahead of the learning curve this season with the only loss coming to rival Martins Ferry.
St. Clairsville picked up a playoff victory Saturday night by beating Chesapeake on a last-second field goal by Zach Musilli. The Red Devils move on to face Coshocton this week in Zanesville.
Reno Saccoccia, Steubenville
Graduation took 17 seniors from the Steubenville program and there were whispers that Steubenville would take a step back.
Instead, it took a giant step forward, finishing with a perfect 10-0 season, a first-round victory against Indian Creek, and another state championship on Big Red's mind. Steubenville plays Youngstown Cardinal Mooney this week in the second round of the regional tournament.
Big Red played another demanding schedule and was rarely challenged. Saccoccia claimed his 300th victory during the Week 9 victory against Massillon.
Mike Young, Wheeling Central
Much like Saccoccia, Young has a program where its seemingly ''championship or bust.''
The most dominant Class A program in West Virginia, the Maroon Knights prepared to defend their state championship title minus two major offensive weapons with the graduation of standout tailback Marcus Clifford (and 11 other seniors) and the transfer of quarterback Lee Peluchette.
All that did was give more carries to duo of sophomore quarterback Parker Henry and senior running back Gino Bianconi as the Maroon Knights reloaded.
Despite the lopsided loss to Linsly, Young has Wheeling Central at 9-1 and the No. 1 seed in the Class A playoffs, beginning Friday at Wheeling Island Stadium against Parkersburg Catholic.
Good Hands Team
(Weekend wrap only includes teams that called or emailed their stats on Sunday).