Fort Frye football coach wins OVAC Coach of the Year

COACH OF THE YEAR — Fort Frye football coach Eric Huck is presented the OVAC Bill Van Horne Coach-of-the-Year award from Doug Huff during Monday night’s OVAC Banquet of Champions. (Photo by Bubba Kapral)

WHEELING — Fort Frye has long been known as a basketball school.

Eric Huck, however, is changing the sports landscape in Beverly.

Huck has been in charge of the Cadets’ football program for the past 11 years. During that time, Fort Frye’s football fortunes have risen dramatically.

The 2018 grid season proved to be the pinnacle in the school’s football annals. Huck led his Cadets to a perfect regular season, en route to capturing the OVAC 3A championship.

It didn’t end there.

Fort Frye’s dream season carried all the way to the Division VI state semifinals, pocketing three playoff wins along the way. The Cadets were finally derailed by eventual state champion Kirtland, 35-18.

Such success does not go unnoticed. Fittingly, Huck was named the recipient of the OVAC Bill Van Horne Coach of the Year award at Monday night’s OVAC Banquet of Champions at WesBanco Arena.

“Winning this award was totally unexpected. With all the great coaches in the OVAC, it was just an honor to be one of the five finalists,” Huck said. “I am very humbled. I want to thank my wife, father-in-law and son for being here tonight to share this with me.

“It was a very special season. Three years ago we won our first playoff game. Everything has gotten better since. Winning the regional was a huge achievement for our program.”

Earlier this year, Huck, 41, was honored as the Eastern District Coach of the Year. His Cadets also were champions of the Pioneer Valley Conference.

“Going into the season, we thought we could do a lot of good things. We talked about it as a team,” Huck said. “We only had 30 players, but our eight seniors were great leaders.

“The players really believed we could do something special. My staff did a tremendous job. This award really caps a truly special season.”

Huck has authored an 88-33 record at the Fort Frye helm, while guiding the Cadets to all of their six playoff berths in school history.

Huck and his wife, Joel, have a son, Brendan. He was a senior tight end/linebacker this past fall for the Cadets. They reside in Beverly.

Monday night’s four other OVAC Coach of the Year finalists were Ernie Banks (St. Clairsville swimming), Ed West (John Marshall softball), Jordan Williams (Beaver Local wrestling) and Joe Schmidle (University boys basketball).

Also at the banquet, the overall school champions in each classification were announced. They were: Wheeling Park in 5A; St. Clairsville in 4A; Linsly in 3A; Wheeling Central in 2A; and Madonna in 1A.

OVAC President Jeff Crosier delivered the closing remarks, paying tribute to Tom Rataiczak.

He is stepping down as the conference’s OVAC executive director after 20 years in that capacity.

Dirk DeCoy will assume that post July 1. Rataiczak will remain as executive secretary.