"I owe everything to football."

Ken Polson leaves no question of his lifelong commitment and passion for football that stretches back to his high school ball in Aylmer, QC to his CIS days and his 28 years of coaching.

On Sunday, May 20, Football Alberta honoured him as the High School Tier III Coach of the Year

Polson is a defence and kicking coach for the Cobras and he's been a member of a coaching team that has seen 10 provincial championships since he came onboard 15 years ago. He's co-defensive coordinator for the team with Bruce O'Neill and particularly focuses on the linebackers.

While he's certainly proud of the award, he does have his share of ambivalent feelings.

"Anytime anybody wins an award, especially in football, it's a team thing, There's no question about it," says Polson.

"Yes, I'm very proud and pleased, but I certainly owe it to the other guys I work with and the kids."

"There's a lot of head coaches that work their fingers to the bone, they have to do everything. Me, I don't have to everything. I feel good about it, but here's a lot of people who don't get the praise that they deserve."

Proudly displayed to an entrance to the Cochrane High gym are team photos of Cobra teams through the years. Polson has seen many of these players mature through the football program.

It was a coincidental meeting with Rob McNab that lead to him joining the Cobras coaching staff and the two becoming best of friends. Their daughters went to the same playschool and at a birthday party the two ended up talking on the deck for about 2 1/2 hours about football and came to realize how much they had in common. Both played university ball at the same time, Polson for the Bishop's Gaiters, where he was a linebacker and kicker, and McNab quarterbacked the Calgary Dinos.  

Polson joined the Cobras coaching staff for a year while he continued to teach in Calgary. A year later he was successful in joining the Cochrane High staff and is now the head of the mathematics department. He thinks nothing of coming home from school regularly at 6:30- 7 p.m. in the evening.

"This is what I do, this is what I've always done. One of the big reasons I decided to become a teacher is that I get to coach. Going out to the field to practice, that's my reward for what I did today."

Such fire and passion for the sport is common among the Cobras coaching staff. Polson is the fourth of their coaches to be honoured as coach of the year, following Bruce O'Neill, Rob McNab and Jim Forrest.

The disciplined approach to the club's structure and game planning are at the backbone of the team's continued success.

Each year, the team has 15 players from each of grade 10 through 12 and they continue to develop the players throughout those three years, he explains. Between junior varsity games and regular games, it's not uncommon for grade 11 players to actually get more game time. Quite often the starters are out at the half after a handsome lead has been racked up.

Teams vary in strengths from year-to-year, but what has remained consistent is taking all opponents seriously and striving for perfection.

"We prepare for everybody the same, good or bad. Whatever we're going to run, we're going to run it well. We try to make sure when the game comes that no matter what happens, we're prepared for it.

"As a team, usually we don't get any surprises because we've filmed all their games. If we need to adjust, it's not a big adjustment."

McNab prepared the nomination with Bruce O'Neill and says he's glad to see Football Alberta endorse the nomination 

"Being in the building with the kids, he's a great technician of football. He enjoys football, he loves football so he can bring that to the kids. He's a great guy to coach with."

McNab points to the success of linebacker Will Ellers, who played in the Senior Bowl last weekend.

"I don't know if Will would have got there without Coach Polson being his mentor on how to play the game."

He's also is proud to see other members of the Cobras coaching staff being recognized.

"Usually Bruce and I are the ones put up for awards, being head coaches, but the guys under us are working their tails off, too. Jim Forest won it last year and this year Ken deserves it. He's there every day and doing the same thing we are. I feel very proud that he received this award."

Polson wasn't part of the coaching team for South Team in Monday's Senior Bowl but he's been there on the sideline four times. But he was in the stands, enjoying the game he loves.