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Robinson's DePue named Coach of the Year by peers

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Published:   |   Updated: March 13, 2013 at 04:43 PM
TAMPA -

To say the least, it's been good to be Mike DePue this week.

His Robinson High football team is the county's lone squad still alive in the state playoffs and, on top of all that attention, he is practically drowning in well-wishers as he heads into retirement at the conclusion of this school year.

But even he didn't see the Coach of the Year award coming his way at Thursday's National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame annual luncheon at the DoubleTree Hotel. When asked if he would introduce the winner in front of crowd of about 400 coaches, players and administrators, DePue figured, ''Well, I guess that means I'm not getting it.''

But moments later, the 60-year-old DePue opened the envelope at the podium and announced, "The winner is ... me.''

As deserving as he might have been, DePue seemed genuinely surprised by taking home the award, which was selected by his coaching peers.

''I thought I had a chance but then they asked me 'Would you introduce the guy?,' '' DePue said. ''I thought 'Well, maybe (Durant coach Mike) Gottman got it.''

Gottman certainly was a strong candidate. His squad went 10-0 during the regular season for the first time in school history and reached the region semifinals in Class 7A. Instead, the award, now in its 44th year and named in honor former Chamberlain coach Billy Turner, went to DePue.

DePue has won this award twice before during his 10 seasons as the Knights head coach, in 2003 and 2009. But he said this one is particularly special because not only is he heading into retirement, his offensive coordinator, Rob Burns, earned the foundation's award for the Roland Acosta Assistant Coach of the Year.

''To have Robinson win out, Rob getting assistant coach of the year, I think is just outstanding,'' DePue said. ''And all of us get a chance to continue the roll here.''

The good times can continue for DePue, his players and staff if they can get past Tallahassee Godby on Friday. The way things have been going for the Knights, DePue believes they could be playing in the state title game next week in Orlando.

''It's been a ridiculous season,'' DePue said. ''Just to have all the things that have happened. We've looked over the edge of disaster a couple of times but we've always managed to maintain and now we just have to keep it going the next couple of weeks.''

Earning the association's West Coast Officials Association Sportsmanship Award was the Riverview High football team.


wward@tampatrib.com

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