Vacaville High School's Mike Papadopoulos was named the large school ESPNHS Cal-Hi Sports State Coach of the Year on Wednesday night. Cal-Hi editor Mark Tennis said there were several reasons why Papadopoulos stood out.
"The way they beat Folsom after losing 75-6 the year before," Tennis said, "plus it was his second title and not just his first. The way they beat Granite Bay. We also like the connection he has with his father-in-law (Tom Zunino) and the respect he has at the school."
Papadopoulos led the Bulldogs to their second Sac-Joaquin Section title in six years. Vacaville beat Folsom 39-35 on Dec. 3 at Sacramento State for this year's Division II championship. The Bulldogs won a Division I title in 2006 by beating Merced.
"I'm pretty speechless," Papadopoulos said. "It is really humbling and amazing. The things we do were started a long time ago and we've just tried to keep it going. We have such a neat family atmosphere at Vacaville High School that just doesn't happen a lot of places."
Vacaville posted a stellar 13-1 record this year against a strong schedule, and ended the season with a 12-game winning streak. The Bulldogs were in the discussion to represent Northern California in the state Division II title game, but section Division III champion Del Oro was chosen by section commissioners to represent the North.Del Oro lost to Helix of La Mesa 35-24 in the state final at Carson.
The last state coach of the year from Solano County was Vallejo's Bob Patterson in 1949. Patterson later coached Zunino at Vallejo on the famed 1954 team. Colon Kilby of Vallejo won the award in 1945.
The section title also gave Papadopoulos his 70th victory in seven seasons, and an overall record of 70-15. Vacaville has won at least 10 games in five of the last six years.
The Bulldogs also have an 11-4 postseason record under Papadopoulos.
Recently he was honored by the section as one of its six model coaches for the 2011-12 school year.
Rick Prinz of Paradise and Jon Ellinghouse of Sierra Canyon-Chatsworth were the state coaches of the year for medium and small schools, respectively.