Cameron’s Holt Takes Top Honor as The Intelligencer/News-Register Coach of Year
WHEELING — The year 2016 was one nobody in Cameron will soon forget.
A perfect regular season and the first home playoff game at Dragon Stadium will live on in school history as one of the most memorable years of Cameron football.
The man at the center of that was Scott Holt.
In his fourth year as head coach at Cameron, Holt finally put the Dragons over the hump in an emphatic way. For his efforts, he has been selected by his peers as The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register Coach of the Year.
Holt becomes the first Cameron coach to earn this honor.
“It means so much, first off, because of how competitive this valley is,” Holt said. “It is hard to find more people dedicated to their coaching jobs than here so to be selected and to join the people that have been selected in the past means a tremendous amount. Some mentors of mine are on this list and to join them and at least on some respect is a tremendous honor.”
It was a season not many expected, especially with the team coming off a 4-6 campaign.
While many may have predicted a run at a playoff spot, you would have been hard-pressed to find anyone that would have predicted the season to play out like it did.
“I hate to say no but that was beyond our wildest dreams,” Holt said. “Putting a winning product on the field was our first goal. We had 5-5 seasons and some sub-.500 seasons, and it was time to have a winning record.
“With the schedule that we had, four teams that were in the playoffs last year, six teams that had winning seasons. We were hoping to just get that winning season. Then we just kept clicking them off one after another and started to ask ourselves if it was possible. It turned it out it was.”
The measuring stick came in Week 4 as rival Bishop Donahue entered Dragon Stadium sporting the same perfect record Cameron had.
The Bishops had won seven straight against their Marshall County rivals and had multiple leads in a back-and-forth game.
Tied at halftime, Holt didn’t feel he needed to say much to his kids.
“While our coaches were meeting, the kids were talking and making their own adjustments,” Holt said. “Giving their own rallying speeches. To execute and come out on the good end of it by 10 points pushed them along in their confidence as well.
“The Bishop Donahue game was one that convinced the head coach that something special was going on. We hadn’t even been 2-0 since 2003 and it just seemed like Bishop Donahue had our number. The talent edge was there for years. Every break was theirs year after year. That was a game where we got some breaks and tended to make our own luck. To get a win over a rival, an undefeated rival at that, was big in pushing us the rest of the way.”
From there, not much got in Cameron’s way.
A road game at Clay-Battelle turned into a 48-19 Dragons rout.
Despite a field in less-than-ideal conditions and a Van team that made the playoffs, Cameron squeaked by with a two-point victory.
To close the season, Cameron made a four-hour trek to Pocahontas County. The Dragons trailed by two touchdowns. They had to score with no time left and get a 2-point conversion just to force overtime. Then had to score again and get another 2-pointer to win.
The Dragons were 10-0 for the second time in school history.
“You realize what an impact that a dedicated group of people can have on themselves,” Holt said. “Starting with our assistant coaches that work so hard and dedicate so much time to it. The kids who said ‘it is our time to be as good as we can be.’ The group that decided that enough was enough. Seeing people around the valley who come up and congratulate you on a great season. The community of Cameron really wanted this and deserved it. I was happy to give this to them and we are looking forward to getting going next year.
“If they made a movie about it, no one would believe it. It’s funny that game happened four hours from home. How many people from Cameron can say they were there in 10 years? To cap off a 10-0 season in that fashion, scoring from 20 yards out on the last play of the game. Getting the 2-point conversion when we needed it. Giving up a score in overtime and overcoming that to score and get the 2-point conversion to win it. It is a night that I will never forget and anybody that was there will never forget. What it means for our program and what it will continue to mean has yet to be determined.”
Unfortunately for the Dragons, that magical ride came to an end one week later in a loss to Pendleton County in the first round.
A jam-packed crowd Dragons Stadium was in stunned silence, but gave its kids and coaches a standing ovation as they left the field.
“It ended our season at a time when none of us were emotionally ready to step away from one another,” Holt said. “It felt like a bad dream in terms of the bad luck that we hadn’t really had all season. It ends badly for 15 teams in the playoffs and that day it ended for us. To watch Pendleton County go on and win another game and give East Hardy a game made us feel better and worse at the same time and people who have been in that situation will know exactly what I am talking about.
“Nine hundred and fifty people live in Cameron and over 2,000 people were on the home side. That will tell you what a commitment the community of Cameron has to its football program and its football players. It also tells you how much the valley means. Fans from neighboring schools came and it became an event. Cameron football has become an event in the Cameron area again. It’s not just a game on Friday night that people talk about at gas stations on Monday or barber shops. People are already talking about next season. Any time you can talk about football in December, it is a good thing.”
Cameron was led this season by a talented group of seniors in Austin Cain, Lander James, Justin Littleton, Trey Routt, Andrew Simms, Michael Starcher and Ty Thompson.
And while those seven will be missed, the Dragons will bring back a talented group next season looking to build off this season’s success such as Colby Brown, Robert Milliken, Logan Ritchea, Trey Scott, Travis Mickey, Aiden Lucey and more.
“We certainly have pieces coming back that gives us a chance to have a really nice couple of years,” Holt said. “In terms of what our junior high program and youth program is building, we feel we can have a level of consistency. Are we going to be 10-0 and hosting playoff games every year? Maybe not, but certainly we feel we’ve reached a level where Cameron football should be a cut above where some rural teams have found themselves battling numbers and wins.
“To a man, every coach we have is looking forward to next season. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention those guys. Eric James, Roger Cain, Matt Burge, L.J. Winland and Gibbs Davidson and Matt Wiseman our manager. Those guys give so much time and really haven’t gotten any limelight or fanfare out of it and I want to mention their hard work and thank all of our players who committed and did exactly what we asked of them throughout the season.”
Other coaches receiving votes were Steubenville’s Reno Saccoccia, Barnesville’s Matt Johnson, Fort Frye’s Eric Huck, Toronto’s Eric Meek, Bellaire’s Mark Spigarelli and River’s Mike Flannery.
THE INTELLIGENCER/NEWS-REGISTER COACH OF THE YEAR WINNERS
2016 — Scott Holt, Cameron
2015 — Mac McLean, Brooke
2014 — John Durdines, Bishop Donahue
2013 — Doug Taylor, Madonna
2012 — Brett McLean, St. Clairsville
2011 — Brett McLean, St. Clairsville
2010 — Mark Holenka, Shadyside
2009 — Tom Bruney, Brooke
2008 — Mike Flannery, River
2007 — Brett McLean, St. Clairsville
2006 — John Magistro, Bellaire
2005 — Reno Saccoccia, Steubenville
2004 — Bob Kramer, Weirton Madonna
2003 — Reno Saccoccia, Steubenville
2002 — Jay Circosta, Monroe Central
2001 — Ty Fleming, Shadyside
2000 — Ty Fleming, Shadyside
1999 — Alan Treherne, Barnesville
1998 — Wayne Neely, Weir
1997 — John Magistro, Bellaire
1996 — John Magistro, Bellaire
1995 — John Magistro, Bellaire
1994 — Bob Thayer, Wellsville
1993 — P.K. Poling, Oak Glen
1992 — Dave Kovalick, Barnesville
1991 — Gregg Bahen, Steubenville Central
1990 — Paul Billiard, Brooke
1989 — Ty Fleming, Shadyside
1988 — Dave Cisar, Magnolia
1987 — Jim Paul, Weirton Madonna
1986 — Rich Weiskircher, Buckeye North
1985 — Rich Weiskircher, Buckeye North
1984 — Reno Saccoccia, Steubenville
1983 — Dan McGrew, Weir
1982 — Mike Herrick, Mingo
1981 — Dave Cisar, Magnolia
1980 — Bill McHugh, Buckeye South
1979 — Jim Thomas, Wheeling Central
1978 — Lou Nocida, Sistersville
1977 — Sonny Rea, Brooke
1976 — Jay Circosta, Woodsfield
1975 — Ron Pobolish, Cadiz
1974 — Rich Wilinski, Toronto
1973 — Lou Nocida, Magnolia
1972 — Marty Flannery, River
1971 — Tom Korab, Steubenville Central
1970 — Joe Ault, Bridgeport
1969 — George Strager, St. Clairsville
1968 — Jake Olsavsky, Brilliant
1967 — Andy Urbanic, Wheeling Central
1966 — Don Ault, Bellaire
1965 — Joe Ault, Bridgeport
1964 — Dick Thurnes, Tiltonsville
1963 — Dan McGrew, Bellaire St. John’s
1962 — George Strager, Wheeling Central
1940 — Bill Dorsey, Powhatan and Stan Plummer, Bridgeport
1939 — Bob Roe, Warwood
*No picks between 1941-1961.