It’s USA Today’s online search for America’s Best High School Football Coach. And one of the candidates for the award is Stillman Valley’s own Mike Lalor.
"Honestly when it first came out I thought it was a joke," says Lalor to Eyewitness News. "I didn't think there was any way I would be considered for something like that."
It’s no joke. Students and staff at Stillman are taking the contest very serioiusly packing the school’s computer lab every day to vote for their coach.
"All of the students are excited whether they’re football players or not," says math teacher Beth Kleinschmidt. "I know a lot of faculty members have been voting any time they can. Before and after school in the last couple weeks we have had the computer lab completely full."
Lalor has won four state championships and finished second once since taking over as head football coach at Stillman Valley in 1998. Lalor was one of eight coaches in Illinois nominated for the USA Today honor and one of 408 coaches nationwide. He won the first round of voting the state competition. Now he’s one of 51 coaches in the regional competition.
Some of his players have made a Youtube video touting why they think Lalor is deserving of being named America’s Best High School Football Coach.
"It was kind of a spur of the moment, but it was obvious it was a good idea. So we just showed up early at school the next day and made the video," says Chris Brauns one of the football players in the video.
"I saw it last week," says Lalor. "It was pretty moving to see that side of them, and they did just a beautiful job on that."
Not that Lalor is consumed with winning the award. He believes the contest is more about promoting the school and the community than himself.
"What it’s become is a great thing for this town," says Lalor. "I think it's about the town trying to put Stillman on the map."
A tiny town of 11 hundred people just might have America’s Best High School football coach.
This second, regional round of voting will end on Friday. If Lalor wins his region, he’ll be one of eight coaches to advance to the final National Round the final week of this month.
To vote for Lalor go to the following web page http://contest.usatodayhss.com/vote/bestcoach2013/r4?votedfor=C&success=1
Copyright 2015 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.