PANA, Ill. (WAND) -- The Chicago Bears are now recognizing something that Christian County has known for quite some time now: the Pana Panthers just do things differently.
The Bears are honoring head coach Trevor Higgins as Coach of the Week for leading the Panthers to a strong 3-0 start, for donating a great deal of time to his players off the field through FCA and lastly for showing unusual character in the face of tragedy.
From the Chicago Bears:
Sept. 13, 2019
CHICAGO BEARS HIGH SCHOOL COACH AND ALL-STAR FOR WEEK 2 SELECTED
Program honors top Illinois high school football coaches and players
The Chicago Bears announced today that Trevor Higgins of Pana High School in Pana, Ill., has been named the Chicago Bears High School “Coach of the Week” for Week 2 and running back Daniel Jezik of Coal City High School in Coal City, Ill., was named the Chicago Bears “High School All-Star.”
The “Coach of the Week” and “High School All-Stars” programs are brought to you by Athletico Physical Therapy. Higgins, who was named head coach of the Panthers in 2016, has helped lead his team to a 2-0 record to open the season. Pana registered a 44-7 victory in their opening game at Staunton/Mt. Olive (1-1) on Aug. 30 and followed that with a 38-14 win at Roxana (0-2) on Sept. 6. Senior Lane Perry has registered a team-high four touchdowns. They will host Gillespie (1-1) at 7 p.m. today. Higgins, who is also a teacher at Pana Junior High School and a Fellowship of Christian Athletes leader, tragically lost his son in an accident over the summer.
Jezik recorded 295 rushing yards, two touchdowns, nine tackles and four PATs in the Coalers’ 34-20 win vs. Bishop McNamara (1-1) on Sept. 6. He opened the season with three touchdowns and 243 rushing yards in Coal City’s 48-33 kickoff game victory. Jezik, a senior, was also named the Class 2A wrestling champion for his weight class in February. The Coalers will play at Herscher (1-1) today at 7 p.m.
Higgins and Jezik will be invited to the Bears vs. Kansas City game on Sunday, Dec. 22, and will join their fellow 2019 “Coach of the Week” and “High School All-Star” honorees, respectively, for a pregame photo on the field. They will each also receive a framed certificate signed by Bears general manager Ryan Pace, head coach Matt Nagy and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
In addition to “Coach of the Week” and “High School All-Star” honorees attending the Bears vs. Kansas City game, all eight Illinois High School Association football state champion teams will also be recognized on Dec. 22.
The Bears, in partnership with IHSA, will invite representatives from each team to the game and hold a special recognition of their state titles during halftime. For more information, please visit chicagobears.com/community.
About “Coach of the Week”
The Chicago Bears “Coach of the Week” program enters its 24th season this year. The program honors outstanding Illinois high school coaches who develop players’ football skills and knowledge, character, leadership, discipline and teamwork abilities. Other criteria considered includes unique coaching methodology, community and off-field components, school and community support, volunteerism and, most importantly, contributions to players’ long-term success on and off the field. Deserving high school coaches are nominated by a panel of local prep authorities and the winning coach is selected each week. The Chicago Bears will make a $2,000 contribution to the football program at each winning coach’s school and invite them to a Bears game. Since the program’s inception, the Bears have donated over $293,500 to Illinois high schools in support of their football programs.
About “High School All-Star”
Each week for nine weeks, an outstanding high school football player will be selected through the Bears “High School All-Star” program. Each of the nine players will have the opportunity to direct a $500 monetary donation to the youth football program of his choice. The nomination criteria for the program includes on-field performance, community involvement and good sportsmanship. The Bears “High School All-Stars” program will run until Oct. 26. Deserving high school players are nominated by a panel of local prep authorities and the winning player is selected each week.