Jeff Graham of Paxton-Buckley-Loda High School in Paxton, IL was named the Chicago Bears High School "Coach of the Week" for Week 4.
Graham has the Panthers off their best start since 2002, moving to 4-0 following a 41-12 win over Watseka last Friday, September 20. In 2002, Graham was in his first season as head coach at Paxton-Buckley-Loda, and led the team to the state playoffs. After four years and two more playoff appearances, Graham resigned as coach to become principal at the junior high school. His new position would not allow him to coach football.
Paxton-Buckley-Loda won eight games and made just one more playoff appearance over the next five years. Following the 2010-2011 school year, Graham requested a transfer to the high school assistant principal position so he could coach football again. In his first season back in 2011, the Panthers won two games. The program has been steadily improving since Graham's return, with four wins in 2012, and four wins through four weeks in 2013.
Coach Graham will be invited to the Bears vs. Packers game on Sunday, December 29 and will be recognized during an on-field ceremony. He will also receive a framed certificate and attend a Bears practice and "chalk-talk" at Halas Hall with his fellow 2013 "Coach of the Week" honorees.
The Chicago Bears "Coach of the Week" program is in its 18th season. The program honors outstanding Illinois high school coaches who develop players' football skills and knowledge, character, leadership, discipline and teamwork abilities. Other criteria considered include unique coaching methodology, school and community support, volunteerism and, most importantly, contributions to players' long-term success on and off the field.
The program will run for nine weeks from September 2 through October 28. Deserving high school coaches are nominated by a panel of local prep authorities and the winning "Coach of the Week" is selected each week. The Chicago Bears will make a $1,500 contribution to the football program at each winning coach's school.
Since the program's inception, the Bears have donated over $220,000 to Illinois high schools in support of their football programs. The Chicago Bears "Coach of the Week" program is brought to you by FOX 32 Chicago and the Illinois Army National Guard.
In addition to the "Coach of the Week" winners being honored at the Bears vs. Packers game on December 29, all eight IHSA football state champion teams will be recognized at this game. The Chicago Bears, in partnership with the Illinois High School Association and the Illinois Army National Guard, will invite representatives from each team to the game, and a special recognition of their state titles will take place during halftime.