Sam Houston head coach Willie Fritz and Montana State's Rob Ash have been named as NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision Region Five "Co-Coaches of the Year" by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA).

Fritz guided the Bearkats to an 8-3 record and Sam Houston's second consecutive Southland Conference championship and NCAA Division I Football Championships playoff berth. The Kats finished the regular season ranked No. 5 nationally. The back-to-back Southland titles and FCS playoff appearances in 2011 and 2012 are a school first.

In three years at Sam Houston, Fritz has guided the program to a 29-9 overall record, the most victories in any three-year period in the university's 97 seasons of football. Fritz is a repeat winner of the AFCA Regional Coach-of-the-Year honor, receiving the award in 2011 after a 14-1 season that saw the Bearkats reach the national championship final.

Fritz and Ash, who directed Montana State to an 10-1 and the No. 3 seed in the FCS playoffs this year, will face off in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division I Championships Friday night in Bozeman. The game will be telecast nationally on ESPN2. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. Central time.

The AFCA recognizes five regional Coach of the Year winners in each of the Association's five divisions: Football Bowl Subdivision, Football Championship Subdivision, Division II, Division III and NAIA. The winners are selected by Active members of the Association who vote for coaches in their respective regions and divisions. 

The 2012 Regional Coach of the Year winners will be recognized at the AFCA Coach of the Year Dinner at the 2013 AFCA Convention in Nashville, Tennessee. The dinner is scheduled for Tuesday, January 8.

2012 AFCA Regional Coach of the Year Winners

Football Bowl Subdivision
Region 1: Charlie Strong, University of Louisville
Region 2: Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M University
Region 3: Brian Kelly, University of Notre Dame
Region 4: Bill Snyder, Kansas State University
Region 5: Mike Riley, Oregon State University

Football Championship Subdivision
Region 1: Sean McDonnell, University of New Hampshire
Region 2: Brian Jenkins, Bethune-Cookman University & Chuck Priore, Stony Brook University (tie)
Region 3: Dino Babers, Eastern Illinois University
Region 4: Trent Miles, Indiana State UniversityRegion 5: Rob Ash, Montana State University & Willie Fritz, Sam Houston State University (tie)

Division II 
Region 1: Mark Maciejewski, Shippensburg University
Region 2: Connell Maynor, Winston-Salem State University
Region 3: Lee Owens, Ashland University
Region 4: Don Carthel, West Texas A&M University
Region 5: Aaron Keen, Minnesota State University-Mankato

Division III
Region 1: Mike Cragg, Hobart College
Region 2: Tom Watts, Ohio Wesleyan University
Region 3: Pete Fredenburg, University of Mary Hardin-Baylor
Region 4: Larry Kehres, University of Mount Union
Region 5: Patrick Cerroni, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh

Region 1: Bill Cronin, Georgetown College (Ky.)
Region 2: Ted Karras, Jr., Marian University
Region 3: Paul Troth, Missouri Valley College
Region 4: Steve Ryan, Morningside College
Region 5: Chuck Morrell, Montana Tech