WHEELING - Brett McLean is a pretty humble guy.
When the St. Clairsville football coach was named one of the five finalists for the News Register-Bill Van Horne OVAC Coach of the Year, he was just honored to be mentioned in the same breath as the other four.
After McLean won the prestigious award, he was left thinking 'how did I get it?'
PHOTO BY TONY VIOLA
St. Clairsville football coach Brett McLean, right, poses with retired Intelligencer Sports Editor Doug Huff after being selected as OVAC Coach of the Year.
''There's a lot of guys with a lot more tenure than me who are Hall of Fame guys,'' McLean said. ''I'm really proud to be recognized, but in the same sense, I have total respect for all the other candidates. It's just a real honor anytime someone gives you something like this to look at your career.
''I appreciate the recognition, I do. But I'm a humble guy.''
That's a phrase that was repeated time and time again through the loudspeakers at WesBanco Arena during the 28th Annual OVAC Banquet of Champions.
More than $30,000 in scholarships were handed to out to 40 athletes to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the largest high school athletic conference in America.
The night ended with Doug Huff, former sports editor of The Intelligencer, presenting McLean with the award.
''It's a huge honor, obviously,'' McLean said. ''I'd like to congratulate all the other candidates, especially (St. Clairsville boys' basketball) Coach (Kim) Clifford. He's like a mentor to me. I work hand in hand with him everyday. His sons have coached with me. One of the sons played at St. C for me.''
Along with Clifford, McLean edged out Fort Frye girls' basketball coach Dan Liedtke, John Marshall softball coach Ed West and Steubenville wrestling coach Mike Blackburn to lay claim to his first OVAC Coach of the Year honor.
After he lead the Red Devils to a 10-0 regular season and the 4A OVAC title, McLean took St. Clairsville deep into the Ohio Division IV playoffs where the team picked up the Region 15 title and made an appearance in the state championship game.
''I had an old coach tell me one time to get to the finals in Ohio you've got to have talent, talent and more talent,'' McLean explained. ''He wasn't lying. It was a tough preseason this year. A year ago, we were kinda under the radar. As coaches, we knew we had some special talent. They just had to mature and grow and they did. I think the whole group handled the expectations really well.''
Everything went so well for McLean, he still doesn't want it to come to an end.
''I don't ever want to close the chapter on this season,'' he said. ''I hope it instills a lot in our programs at St. Clairsville. It makes our kids hungry to want to continue to be successful. We'll never forget this group, we'll never forget this season. It was that kinda special year that probably one day we'll talk about them as the glory days. We just want to soak up the moment and enjoy it.''