Boyle County's Larry French and Monroe County's John Petett had a couple of things in common this high school football season.
They both engineered tremendous turnarounds by their teams thanks to strong senior classes. And they both guided those squads to the state semifinals.
Now the two have something else in common, the Coach of the Year award. French and Petett share the honor this season as chosen in a statewide media poll.
For French, 57, the first year was the charm at the Danville school.
Boyle County, which won five straight state titles from 1999-2003, lost six games from 2000-2005, but went 6-6 in '06 and 5-7 last season before French took over.
This season the Rebels rolled to 13 straight wins before falling to Bell County 17-15 in last Friday's Class 4A state semifinals.
"I think the big thing was when I came in I used what was here," French said. "They had a great coaching staff already in place, and I gave those coaches responsibility and they took the reigns ... and I had 16 seniors, and they were a great building block. They dedicated themselves to having a great year. This senior class, they worked extremely hard and played every play like it was their last."
This season Boyle County outscored its opponents 532-113 and held them to single digits in nine games. In fact the most points they gave up in one game was to Bell County.
"We brought back a lot of pride in the football program that had been down a couple years," French said. "But they had the ingredients in place. They had played some younger kids and those younger kids came to the forefront this season."
Prior to coming to Boyle, French was previously the head coach at Lincoln County, Mercer County and Meade County.
"You're only as good as your coaching staff and the kids that you have playing for you, and I've been fortunate to work with great young people and great coaches," said French, who guided the Green Wave to a state runner-up finish in Class 3A in 1991.
Meanwhile the 35-year-old Petett made great progress at Monroe County after the Falcons faltered to 2-9 last season. This year Petett led the Tompkinsville school to a 12-2 record and a spot in the Class 2A semifinals, the Falcons lost to Fort Campbell 34-18.
"I was very excited for my players on their accomplishments this year," Petett said. "They are very deserving of all their accomplishments during the season. This has been a season to remember for these players, they are a great bunch of kids."
Last season the Falcons were outscored 299-125 and shut out four times. This season they outscored their foes 494-242 and scored 21 or more points in every regular-season game.
"Our kids vowed last November not to let it happen again," said Petett, in his fifth season as head coach after being an assistant for eight years. "We had 18 seniors, we had a great offseason, we got bigger, stronger and faster ... last year was kind of a bump in the road for them, kind of woke them up."
Monroe County was third in AA in scoring during the regular season and the Falcons also ranked in the Top 5 in rushing and rushing defense this season.
"Our motto all year was 1-0, we never looked past any team," Petett said. "They had a workman mentality all year long, they treated it as a business."
But that was never the case for Petett.
"It was a great ride, we had fun," he said. "The bottom line is I enjoyed coming to work for 20 weeks. I looked forward to coming to practice every day."
Other coaches receiving votes were Philip Haywood of Belfry, Raceland's Randy Vanderhoof, Jim Black of Whitley County, Corbin's Steve Jewell and Ravon Patterson of Shawnee.