Hal Lamb guided Calhoun High School to the Georgia Class AA state title in 2011, after the Yellow Jackets had captured their 11th consecutive regional championship.
But it takes more than on-field success to become a finalist for the Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year award. And Lamb is a winner in that regard, as well. Just ask Kris Durham, the Seahawks’ second-year wide receiver who nominated his former coach for the honor.
“Coach Lamb is just a great man,” Durham said today, during a break in his rehab process from the shoulder surgery that ended his rookie season. “He’s always had the best interest of all of his athletes as a priority and made sure if we ever needed anything he was always there supporting us – whether it was basketball, track, baseball, it didn’t matter. He was at every sporting event.
“If you ever needed someone to talk or anything was going on with your life, he was your counselor. He’s just a great man all around.”
On the field, Lamb is Calhoun’s all-time winningest coach (143-28) and has led the Yellow Jackets to five state title games. And once you’ve played for him, Lamb never forgets.
“He still calls and keeps up with me to this day,” said Durham, who played at Georgia after leaving Calhoun and was a fourth-round draft choice by the Seahawks last year. “I go back in town and he makes sure he talks to me. He still calls all of his athletes that went on to college and keeps up with them – makes sure everyone is doing what he’s supposed to do.
“He’s definitely a father figure for a lot of the guys, and he’s someone I respect and hold highly in my life. I thought he was well-deserving of the honor and fortunately the committee was able to see that, too.”
The other finalists are John McKissick of Summerville (S.C.) High School, who has compiled 594 victories, won 10 state championships and was nominated by the Carolina Panthers; and John Herrington of Farmington Hills (Mich.) High School, who has won 13 state titles and was nominated by the Detroit Lions.
The winner will be announced Saturday.