The Premier Coach Award is presented to the Head Coach fans voted as the best in his or her sport via online polls. Candidates are announced about a month prior to the end of the regular sports season. Fans then vote not just for the Head Coach with the best regular season team record, but for the coach they felt led his or her team beyond expectations during the season that brought hope and excitement to them and/or their community.
2017 Robert Weiner
The Plant Panthers and Robert Weiner had a successful season by any concept of the term. The Panthers made a run to the State semifinal, losing an epically close game to Bartram Trail 34-29. That game was one of only two losses the Panthers picked up all year as they finished 12-2 often blowing their opponents away under Weiner’s coaching.
Each of the 12 victories picked up by his charges this year will have been important to Weiner, but there will be a couple that stood out from the rest. The first of these was the 43-0 victory over East River in the first game of the playoffs. It was a contest where Plant did everything right, suffocating their opponent and scoring at will on their way to a massive victory. On that night Weiner was totally in control as Plant ran up and down the field.
The other signature victory was one that came about in a very different way. In the Class 7A Regional Final, Plant squeaked past No. 1 seed Lakeland 13-10. It was the kind of game that has become synonymous with Weiner in his years coaching in Florida, a game that looked out of his team’s hands for much of the second half. As seemingly always, however, Plant came back and took away a last gasp victory.
Those victories are ones that early in a career can be pinned on luck. Eventually though they become a habit, they become frequent, and the narrative changes from being lucky to being good. Robert Weiner was good – yet again – in 2017, so good in fact that no other coach compared.