Moon’s Pfeifer Named 2021-22 NFHS National Coach of the Year; Six WPIAL Coaches Earn NFHS Section Honors

Friday, January 27, 2023

Pittsburgh, Pa. – Highlighted by the selection of Moon head coach Bill Pfeifer as National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) National Girls’ Soccer Coach of the Year, the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League (WPIAL) saw six head coaches receive recognition from NFHS with Section 2 Coach of the Year awards on Wednesday afternoon.

Section 2 of the NFHS, known as the Mideast Section, is comprised of eight state associations: Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington D.C., and West Virginia. The NFHS Coaches Association Advisory Committee, in collaboration with its member state associations, select coaches for state, sectional, and national recognition each year. A total of 870 coaches were recognized with state, sectional, and national awards.

The six WPIAL coaches to garner Section 2 Coach of the Year accolades are: Seneca Valley’s Brian Blackwell (Boys’ Swimming & Diving), Neshannock’s Luann Grybowski (Girls’ Basketball), Mars’s Bob Marcoux (Boys’ Lacrosse), Hempfield Area’s Suzannah Mayer (Competitive Spirit), Montour’s Rob Naylor (Girls’ Cross Country), and Moon’s Bill Pfeifer (Girls’ Soccer). Pfeifer was one of 23 coaches selected across the country as NFHS National Coach of the Year for their respective sport.

RELEASE: 2021-22 National Coaches of the Year Selected by NFHS Coaches Association

Pfeifer, the head coach of the Moon girls’ soccer team, guided the Tigers to section, WPIAL, and Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) championships in 2021. Moon finished the season with a 20-1-1 record, capturing PIAA 4A glory as the smallest school in the classification. The Tigers allowed five goals all year – four in the regular season and one in the WPIAL and PIAA postseason – and posted national rankings of No. 12 by MaxPreps, and No. 17 from United Soccer Coaches and Prep Soccer. Pfeifer earned various Coach of the Year accolades from Pennsylvania Soccer Coaches Association (PSCA), United Soccer Coaches, Big 56 Conference, and the Beaver County Times.

Blackwell, the head coach of the Seneca Valley boys’ swimming & diving team, led the Raiders to their second WPIAL title – and first since 1975 – and first PIAA championship. Seneca Valley went 12-0 in dual meets and 6-0 in section competition. The Raiders won the WPIAL crown over Upper St. Clair by 67.5 points, thanks in part to wins in the 1-meter dive, 100 freestyle, 200 freestyle, 100 breaststroke, 200 individual medley, 200 freestyle relay, and 400 freestyle relay. Seneca Valley then topped LaSalle College by 14 points at the PIAA Championships, with the title clinched in the final event as the quartet of Kevin Donaldson, Gavin Blazer, Zach Lozowski, and Daniel Simoes took gold in the 400 freestyle relay.

Grybowski, the head coach of the Neshannock girls’ basketball team, led the Lancers to section, WPIAL, and PIAA championships in her 42nd year on the bench. She reached 700 career wins in January of 2021, and earned Coach of the Year accolades from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Pennsylvania Sports Writers, and Pennsylvania Basketball Coaches Association. Neshannock finished with a 29-2 overall record, defeating Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, 55-31, to win the WPIAL crown before winning 62-56 over Southern Columbia to claim PIAA gold. Grybowski’s team, which also won the St. Joe’s Tip-Off and Hickory Christmas tournaments, had two All-State selections in Neleh Nogay and Mairan Haggerty.

Marcoux, the head coach of the Mars boys’ lacrosse team, guided the Planets to WPIAL and PIAA championships. Mars went 23-1 in 2022, with its only loss coming to Ohio state champion Upper Arlington, and averaged 17.6 goals per game while allowing just 3.9 per game. The Planets knocked off Quaker Valley, 19-3, to win the WPIAL crown and became the first District VII school to win a PIAA boys’ lacrosse title with a 9-6 triumph against Marple Newtown. Under Marcoux’s watch, Mars has gone undefeated in section play since 2014 and haven’t lost a WPIAL 2A contest since the 2015 semifinals.

Mayer, the head coach of the Hempfield Area competitive spirit team, led the Spartans to gold at the WPIAL and PIAA championships. Hempfield Area’s competitive gameday team finished third at the National High School Cheerleading Championships (NHSCC) in Orlando, Fla, and its traditional competitive team placed fourth. Both the gameday and traditional teams finished undefeated in local competitions held at Bishop McCort High School, Forest Hills High School, Johnstown High School, and United High School.

Naylor, the head coach of the Montour girls’ cross country team, saw his Spartans team capture WPIAL and PIAA championships for the first time in program history. Montour scored 54 points at the WPIAL Championships, finishing 50 ahead of runner-up Chartiers Valley with four runners placing inside the top 10 individually. At the PIAA Championships, the Spartans were 13 points better than runner-up Central Cambria, netting 84 points with three runners placing inside the top 20. Harley Kletz and Lakyn Schaltenbrand posted top-10 efforts in both championship races.

In October of 2021, nine WPIAL head coaches were bestowed with PIAA/NFHS Coach of the Year plaudits with Moon’s Kyle Burgess (Girls’ Track & Field), Hampton’s Matt McAwley (Boys’ Soccer), and North Allegheny’s Dan Schall (Boys’ Volleyball) earning recognition alongside the aforementioned six coaches.

LINK: PIAA Announces 24 State Coaches of the Year for 2021-2022 School Year

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