Hillhouse High football coach Reggie Lytle and Cromwell High girls basketball coach Kelly Maher have been selected as the Connecticut Sports Writers' Alliance Doc McInerney High School Coaches of the Year.
They will be honored at the 76th Gold Key Dinner on April 30 at the Aqua Turf Club in Southington.
Lytle, coach of the year in a male sport, led Hillhouse to the 2016 Class M football title and Maher, coach of the year in a female sport, guided Cromwell to the Class M girls basketball championship in 2015-16.
Defensive end Dwight Freeney of the Atlanta Falcons, five-time Olympic archer Butch Johnson, Farmington boys soccer coach Steve Waters and former Cheshire swim coach Ed Aston will receive Gold Keys at the dinner.
Tickets to the 2017 Gold Key Dinner, which begins at 4 p.m., are $75 and can be purchased by contacting dinner chairman Tim Jensen of Patch Media Corp. at email@example.com or 860-394-5091; or CSWA President Matthew Conyers of The Hartford Courant at 860-874-4166, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Tickets can also be obtained by mailing a check to the Connecticut Sports Writers' Alliance, P.O. Box 70, Unionville, CT, 06085. Proceeds benefit the Alliance's Bohdan Kolinsky Memorial Sports Journalism Scholarship.
Lytle and Hillhouse (12-1) capped off the 2016 season with a 42-21 win over St. Joseph in the Class M championship game. The Academics trailed at halftime, but rallied behind a dominant second-half defensive effort in which they held St. Joseph scoreless, allowing 25 yards in the half.
The championship completed a trifecta for Lytle, who won the title as a Hillhouse player (1985) and contributed to two state championships as an assistant coach (2010 and 2012). Lytle, who took over as head coach in 2013, is the first African-American head coach in Southern Connecticut Conference history to win a football state title.
The season was an emotional one after senior Derrick Smith was shot the night before the team's game against Hand High of Madison in September. Smith survived the shooting and was on the sideline for the Academics' championship game victory.
Lytle’s teams persevered despite the lack of a home field until last season when Bowen Field was renovated. Lytle also helped his team cope with the death of sophomore Jacob Craggett, who was shot and killed in August 2014.
Lytle's other accolades last season included Southern Connecticut Conference Division II Football Coach of the Year, New Haven Register Area and State Football Coach of the Year and Walter Camp Connecticut Coach of the Year.
Lytle serves as president of the New Haven Steelers Pop Warner program and is a longtime volunteer with the organization.
Behind Maher, Cromwell was the only girls basketball team in the state to finish undefeated (28-0) in 2015-16.
The Panthers, who also went 28-0 in 2012-13, capped off their season with a 43-20 victory over Notre Dame-Fairfield in the Class M final.
Maher, who is in her 10th season, has led Cromwell to two Class M state titles and five Shoreline Conference championships. She has a career record of 212-41.
Maher's teams have been to the state semifinals seven times and have made four championship game appearances.
Maher was selected as the USA Today Basketball Connecticut Coach of the Year in 2016. She was voted the Shoreline Conference Coach of the Year in 2012, 2013 and 2016.
Maher was named a coach for the CHSCA All-Star Game in 2009 and the JCC School Girl Classic All-Star Game in 2014 and 2016.
Maher lettered in soccer, basketball and track at Cromwell. She played lacrosse at Keene State College.
Photo credits: Reggie Lytle photo courtesy New Haven Football Foundation; Kelly Maher photo by Jimmy Zanor, courtesy GameTime CT