High honor: Dalton's Land receives NFL's Don Shula Award as top high school coach in the country

Matt Hamilton/Daily Citizen-News

Dalton High School head football coach Matt Land watches from the sideline during a game this past season. On Sunday, Land received the NFL's Don Shula Award today as the top high school coach in the country at the Pro Bowl in Orlando, Florida.

Dalton High School football coach Matt Land won the NFL’s Don Shula Award Sunday as the top high school coach in the country at the Pro Bowl in Orlando, Florida.

As part of the award, Land receives $15,000 from the NFL Foundation, $10,000 of which will go to the high school football program. The announcement was made live on ESPN during the Pro Bowl.

“It means a lot,” Land told ESPN’s Lisa Salters. “The opportunity to represent my community, the opportunity to represent my coaching staff, so many great coaches along the way that have that have poured into me. More importantly, representing my wife, my family that lets me do this and then of course my heavenly father that chose me to do this. I’m very blessed.”

The nominees, one per team, were invited to attend the Pro Bowl weekend where the winner was announced. By winning, Land will be able to attend the NFL Honors show in Miami on Saturday, the night before the Super Bowl, when The Associated Press gives out its individual league awards. Land will also be able to attend Super Bowl LIV in Miami on Sunday.

The award is named after the 90-year-old Shula, the Hall of Famer and winningest coach in NFL history.

The winner was selected by a panel including Shula, Hall of Famer Tony Dungy, Super Bowl winners Willie McGinest and Mark Brunell and Pro Football Hall of Fame president David Baker.

The award is based on the coach’s “integrity, achievement, and leadership exemplified by the winningest coach in NFL history, Don Shula,” according to the NFL.

On Dec. 9, Land was named the Don Shula High School Coach of the Year by the Atlanta Falcons, one of 32 high school coaches who received the honor around the country.

He has been Dalton’s head football coach since 2010.

Before that, he was a community coach for the Catamount football team for 17 years. Land is a Dalton native and former Dalton football team captain.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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