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Shawn O'Connor of Lincoln (l.) and Daniel Perez of Fort Hamilton - who ended up taking home that PSAL championship trophy - are candidates for coach of the year.
It's all about the players, but every good team needs a good leader on its sideline. These five coaches stood out as the best and each has a shot to win the coach of the year award when it is announced on Jan. 22:
Eric Barnett CAMPUS MAGNET
In six seasons at Campus Magnet, Barnett has transformed the program from a doormat into one of the city's top teams. After an early-season blowout to Fort Hamilton, Barnett rallied the troops, went back to a smash-mouth style of football, and rattled off six straight victories to land a berth in the Championship Division semifinals, one win short of an appearance at Yankee Stadium.
Passionate, smart, and cool under pressure, Barnett set a high standard and inspired his players to deliver their best. He played to his team's strengths and got the most out of his players.
Shawn O'Connor LINCOLN
O'Connor made his 10th season as the Railsplitters' head coach one of his best. He had to help his team deal with tragedy before the fall campaign even began as Emmanuel Williams, a rising sophomore and younger brother to Ishaq Williams, was murdered in April.
When the season did kick off, all of O'Connor's hard work paid off. The Railsplitters went undefeated during the regular season, drew the top overall seed in the PSAL playoffs and defeated Sheepshead Bay, Clinton and Campus Magnet to reach the PSAL championship game at Yankee Stadium.
Mike O'Donnell STEPINAC
There's a reason the Crusaders have been one of the most successful teams in the league for years. Not only is the White Plains school home to some of the most talented athletes, but its coach, Mike O'Donnell, is one of the best around.
Always trying to play up to the competition, and usually doing so, O'Donnell led Stepinac to one of the most impressive wins of the season, a 23-6 road victory over Iona Prep, which eventually played in the CHSFL 'AAA' title game. That victory propelled the Crusaders onto an unbeaten season that ended with a win in the 'AA' championship game.
Daniel Perez FORT HAMILTON
The first-year coach hit the ground running. Perez picked up where former longtime Tigers coach Vinny Laino left off and he didn't disappoint. In fact, his players regularly commented throughout the season that they didn't think there was much of a change in Perez's system from Laino's. That might be the ultimate compliment in a season that saw Perez lead Fort Hamilton to a championship victory and complete another 13-0 season. He did add his own wrinkles and brought a youthful exuberance back to make the Fort stand strong again.
Rich Reichert ST. ANTHONY'S
Reichert's teams are consistently among the most disciplined, hard-working and outright successful in the area. And more often than not, their seasons end the way this year's did: with a championship.
The Friars cruised through the regular season before living up to expectations in the playoffs, which culminated with an impressive victory over Iona Prep in the title game. The win gave St. Anthony's its ninth league title in 10 years.
Reichert may not have thrown a pass, rushed for a touchdown or sacked a quarterback, but he's still one of the Friars' biggest factors.