St. James Academy High School coach Tom Radke has been named the Chiefs Eric Driskell High School Coach of the Year and was honored at the Chiefs game against the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Dec. 6 by being named the DiPardo Spirit Leader. He will also receive a $2,500 player health and safety grant from the Hunt Family Foundation. Radke was named the Chiefs Coach of the Week for the ninth week of the season, which qualified him for the honor.
St. James knocked off No. 1 ranked and undefeated Paola High School 45-35 in the second round of the 4A playoffs. The Thunder would go on to beat six-time defending 4A champ Bishop Miege 36-35 in overtime on their way to winning their first-ever state title with a 56-34 win over Arkansas City in the Kansas 4A championship game. The Thunder finished the season 8-4.
“I am so honored to receive the Chiefs Coach of the Year award,” said Radke. “It was truly a team effort. I have a great coaching staff, and the kids really stayed focused in what has been such a challenging year. I am so grateful to the SJA administration and parents for trusting us with their kids this year, and for allowing us to have a football season. I think it was so important for these kids to have something to look forward to every day. Over the summer we were hoping to play a few games, as it turned out, we delivered the longest season in St. James history. It’s such a special place, and this is a special team of kids and coaches. I am honored to receive this award, but it truly is an award for all of them!”
Since the 2017 season, the Chiefs High School Coach of the Year Award has been named in memory of Eric Driskell, the former coach at Blue Valley High School. Driskell was a three-time award recipient during his seven years with the football program and also spent 14 years as the head coach of the boys track and field teams. Driskell suddenly passed away in February of 2017.
The announcement marks the culmination of the 24th season of the High School Coach of the Week program, a joint initiative of the Kansas City Chiefs and the National Football League. This program is designed to recognize and reward Kansas City area high school coaches for superior performance on a weekly basis while honoring individuals who are shaping today’s youth and tomorrow’s leaders.