The Buffalo Bills and ADPRO Sports are proud to once again partner to recognize some of the best coaches that Western New York has to offer through the 2020 High School Football Coach of the Week program.
With games not being played in 2020, the Bills are taking this opportunity to recognize the outstanding work that our community's varsity football coaches have done with their programs both on and off the field. We will announce winners from both the Buffalo Region and Rochester Region over the course of eight weeks, with final Coach of the Year winners being announced at halftime of the Bills vs. Dolphins game on Jan. 3, 2021.
Winners will be selected by a panel of local high school football experts based on nominations which include information on the coach's commitment to their community and school, team academic performance, team off-the-field community service, coach/team support of youth football in their community, and health and safety protocols for their players.
Each winning Coach of the Week will receive a $700 grant from the Buffalo Bills and a $1,000 merchandise credit to ADPRO Sports.
Buffalo Region Coach of the Week – Bill Atlas, Wilson
Wilson coach Bill Atlas has been named the Week 5 Buffalo Bills and ADPRO Sports Coach of the Week for the Buffalo Region.
Atlas has coached at Wilson for 20 years, the last 12 as the varsity head coach. He has also coached youth baseball and wrestling in the community. In 2019, Wilson led the Lakemen to a 9-1 record as they advanced to the Section VI Class C championship game at Bills Stadium, setting a school record for most wins in a season.
Coach Atlas' teams have qualified as a New York State Scholar-Athlete Team for the last four seasons and 14 out of the previous 15 years. Atlas makes sure that any of his players that are struggling academically receive after-school help with their studies before they practice. Atlas was named the top sportsmanship coach in the Niagara Orleans League for 2019-20 by the Niagara Orleans League Athletic Directors for his character and sportsmanship on and off the field.
In addition to coaching the varsity football team, Wilson also coaches youth football during the season (after teaching all day and running varsity practice) and has been a board member of the Wilson youth football program for the past nine years.
Atlas has consistently involved his players in community service projects each season. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Atlas and his players raised funds to support the local food pantry. It has also become a tradition that on the first day of school for the teachers and staff (the day before the students are to arrive), Coach Atlas and his team meet the teachers in the parking lot to welcome them back to school, help them with their bags, provide them with coffee, and hold the door open for them as a thank you for all that they do.
Rochester Region Coach of the Week – John Russ, Honeoye Falls-Lima
John Russ of Honeoye Falls-Lima (HF-L) has been named the Week 5 Buffalo Bills and ADPRO Sports Coach of the Week for the Rochester Region.
Russ has coached football at HF-L for 13 seasons, including the last seven as head coach, and is a 2002 graduate of HF-L. Last season, he led HF-L to the school's first ever Section 5 championship game. In addition to serving as varsity head football coach, Russ coaches JV baseball and modified basketball in the district. Coach Russ is embedded in the Honeoye Falls-Lima community as a physical education teacher at the elementary school for grades 2-5. In addition, he also supports his students by regularly attending events within the district including musicals and academic assemblies.
In 2019, the Cougars earned NYS Team Scholar recognition for their academics. While many football programs are struggling with numbers, as a result of Russ's work, HFL participation has grown in the high school program from approximately 70 players each year to over 100 players. Russ is supportive of the USA Football health and safety program, oversees the strength and conditioning program for his team, and implemented all COVID-19 protocols so the team could continue its offseason work.
Russ has committed a tremendous amount of time and effort working with the HF-L youth football program. Several times a year he leads workshops for the volunteer coaches, teaches them terminology and concepts that align with the high school program. In addition to leading workshops, Russ attends youth practices to provide coaching tips and feedback.
Over his seven seasons as varsity head coach, Russ has organized his players to participate in a community service project each year. These projects include having the players read to elementary school students, assisting elderly community members with yard work and volunteering with Habitat for Humanity to help build a house in the Honey Falls-Lima community.