ASHLAND — Southern Oregon University's Charlie Hall has been selected the NAIA Region 5 Coach of the Year, as voted on by his peers in the American Football Coaches Association.
As one of five regional winners, Hall will be recognized at the American Football Coaches Awards on Jan. 9 in Charlotte, N.C. He is automatically a finalist for the AFCA National Coach of the Year award, which will also be announced that day.
The 2017 season ended for Hall and the Raiders last Saturday in the NAIA Championship Series semifinals. They lost at second-ranked Reinhardt (Georgia), a wild 37-34 game that needed two overtime sessions to be decided, and finished with a 12-1 overall record.
Hall, a staple on the local football scene after 12 seasons as the head coach at Ashland High, took over at SOU in March under tragic circumstances following the unexpected death of Craig Howard, who began his rebuild of the Raider football program in 2011.
At 56 years old, Hall was a collegiate head coach for the first time. SOU is his alma mater and the place he'd been an offensive coordinator under Jeff Olson 20 years earlier.
Under his guidance, the Raiders rebounded from a 5-6 season to win their second Frontier Conference title and their first outright. While continuing to produce the kind of offensive numbers to which fans have grown accustomed — the Raiders ranked third nationally in passing offense per game and 12th in total yards — they also featured the team's most effective defense in the Frontier era, ranking first nationally in sacks and holding every regular-season opponent under 30 points for the first time since 1982.
The most telling number was SOU's 36-14 advantage in takeaways, just a year removed from posting a 31-18 disadvantage.
Hall's Raiders were the first team to go undefeated in the Frontier since 2010. They were the seventh team in SOU history to advance to the NAIA Championship Series, and defeated No. 13 Dickinson State (North Dakota) at home and No. 4 Lindsey Wilson (Kentucky) on the road to reach the semifinals for the third time in four years.
Hall, whose coaching career has included stops as an assistant at six universities, was previously voted the Frontier Coach of the Year. This fall he was also inducted to the Northern Arizona University Athletics Hall of Fame with its 2003 Big Sky Conference championship team, for which he was named the NCAA Division 1AA Offensive Coordinator of the Year by American Football Monthly.