Less than a year after Ironwood Ridge football coach Matt Johnson beat Peoria Centennial's Richard Taylor in the Division II state championship game, he came out on top of Taylor in another state-wide contest.
Johnson, in his fifth season with the Nighthawks, tallied 21,917 votes to win the state round of USA Today's Best High School Football Coach contest.
Taylor finished second with 17,285 votes and longtime local coach Jeff Scurran, now at Catalina Foothills, finished third out of eight coaches from Arizona with 2,818.
With the win, Johnson is among 51 coaches to advance to the regional round which will be divided into eight groups of six or seven coaches each. Voting for that round begins Wednesday at 9 a.m. and ends Oct. 18. Visit http://contest.usatodayhss.com/ to vote.
The eight winners from the regional round advance to the national round later this month, where the winning school will receive $2,000 prize.
I-Ridge is off to a 5-1 start this year after going 13-1 and winning the Division II state title in 2012, the school's first. Johnson and the Nighthawks will travel to Tucson High on Friday night, in a matchup of two top-10 teams in Division II that will air live on Cox7 Arizona.