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ASWA honors Southside's Daugherty, Gaston's Morris with coaching awards


Southside's Ron Daugherty, left, and Gaston's Swane Morris each were awarded the Coach of the Year award on the ASWA All-State football team released Saturday. Daugherty won in Class 5A and Morris took the 2A honor. (Photo by Gadsden Times | File)


Two high school football coaches in Etowah County received the top honor for their profession Saturday night from the Alabama Sports Writers Association.

Southside’s Ron Daugherty was named the Class 5A Coach of the Year, while Gaston’s Swane Morris was named the 2A Coach of the Year when the ASWA released its All-State team Saturday.

Both coaches took the news as quite a surprise, and both said it was their respective teams who deserved the credit.

“That’s an unbelievable honor,” Daugherty said. “I’m kind of speechless. I kind of wish it was a team of the year/coaching staff of the year award. But as far as getting a coach of the year award, this is the big one. It’s very exciting and a great honor.

Morris said, “Are you kidding? Wow, that’s something. You want your team to get all of that, but that’s really neat.”

Both coaches earned the awards in different way.

For Daugherty, who had been a career assistant until 2013, he was able to keep a talented team focused on the season after he was named interim coach just eight days before the season began. Southside finished the regular season undefeated and won its first region/area title since 1980 and just the second in program history. The Panthers set a school record for wins, finishing 13-1 after a trip to the state semifinals.

“I just go to work, and I feel like if you work hard, everything will fall into place,” said Daugherty, who had the interim title finally stripped away at an Etowah County Board of Education meeting Dec. 10. “I wasn’t ever thinking of me.”

Morris’ path to the award was unique. He spent nine years with Gaston from 2001 until 2009, racking up a 70-37 record, two region titles and one trip to the semifinals during that time. He left to take over Scottsboro from 2010 until 2012 before returning to Shinbone Ridge this year.

He took over a team that went 0-10 in 2012 and, with the same core group of players, led it to a 7-4 record and a trip to the postseason.

When Morris returned, he made it clear he didn’t care about anything that had happened in the past.

“When I got those kids, I told them if they’ll invest and do what we need them to do, and approach it the way we need to approach it, they have the talent for us to be successful,” Morris said. “I can’t say enough about what they did, because it’s easy to dwell on 0-10. There was a hunger in the kids and they had the work ethic — those things coupled together make things like this happen.”