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St. Xavier head coach Steve Specht was honored as the Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year on Friday in New Orleans. As the national Shula Award winner, Specht will receive $25,000, $15,000 of which will go to his high school's football program. He also is a guest of the NFL during Super Bowl Week. Shula congratulated Specht and presented him with the award at a press conference today in New Orleans.

Nominated by Greg Scuggs of the Seattle Seahawks, Specht was one of three high school football coaches from across the country named as a finalist for the award, which was created to honor exemplary high school football coaches who demonstrate a commitment to player health & safety, and the integrity, achievement, and leadership exemplified by the winningest coach in NFL history, Don Shula. Scruggs surprised Specht at today's ceremony.

The other finalists were George Novak (Woodland Hills ?Pittsburgh) and George Zuber (James Logan - Union City, CA). Each finalist receives a $2,500 cash award and a $5,000 grant for their high school football programs.

All nominated coaches are active or retired high school football coaches and were nominated by NFL teams and players for their character and integrity, inspirational leadership, commitment to the community and on-field success.

In his nomination essay, Scruggs wrote, "Coach Specht is an honorable, respectable man of integrity who has made an impact in my life and every player he has touched."

As part of his nomination, Specht wrote of his responsibility as a coach. "I think any great organization is composed of people that love one another, focus on the daily pursuit of excellence and understand that no one is able to succeed alone," he said "I firmly believe that our responsibility as coaches and teachers is to equip these young men with tools that will motivate them for life, not just for a game." Specht has coached five players who have gone on to play in the NFL. Specht also works closely with USA Football and is training to be a Master Trainer in their Heads Up Tackling program.

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