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Coaching recognition well deserved

His team might not have had the chance to defend its 2019 Ohio state baseball championship, but that does not diminish the work Brian Perkins, the school’s longtime coach, has done.

Those efforts were recognized Thursday evening when Perkins was named as the recipient of the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Bill Van Horne Coach of the Year Award.

It is a well-deserved accolade for the Perkins, who has guided the Red Knights to a 329-86-1 record during his 16 seasons at the helm. That includes last season’s mark of 28-5.

This year’s award was presented under unusual circumstances, during a virtual banquet of champions that was necessitated by precautions put into place as a result of the coronavirus. COVID-19 also forced the cancellation of all of the spring high school sports schedules, which meant that the Red Knights were not able to defend the Division IV state title they claimed with a 3-1 win over Hillsdale in Akron’s Canal Park on June 9.

It was a victory that capped an exciting run through the post-season, which came as part of a 16-game winning streak, and gave the Red Knights their first state championship since 1998. They also claimed their ninth OVAC title along the way.

This year’s award puts Perkins in some pretty elite company. First, it is an honor that rarely goes to a baseball coach. Perkins is just the fourth baseball coach in the history of the conference to win the award and the first since 2014, when Harrison Central’s Justin Clifford was the honoree. Second, Perkins is just the second Toronto coach to receive the award. Rich Wilinksi won the honor in 1975 for his work with the school’s football team.

Members of the selection committee had their work cut for them this year, narrowing the field five finalists before finally selecting Perkins. Those finalists included Oak Glen High School football coach Ted Arneault Jr., who directed the Golden Bears to a 10-0 regular season and a spot in the West Virginia Class AA semifinals, and Oak Glen volleyball coach Morgan Polling, who coached the school’s volleyball team to a 38-0 record and the Class AA championship.

Fort Frye girls basketball coach Dan Liedtke and Meadowbrook basketball coach Lou “Scooter” Tolzda were the other finalists.

Their work was impressive as well, but in the end, the committee made a good choice.

Perkins acknowledged the support of the players, coaches, administration at the Toronto City School District and the community — as well his wife, Jamie, and their children, Zach and Camryn — as being vital parts of the success he has enjoyed as a coach.

He has set high standards as a coach, a teacher and a mentor, and we congratulate Perkins for being selected as the coach of the year.

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