Mount Dora Christian Academy was selected recently to receive the Cary McDonald Award as the Class 3A private school “Athletic Program of the Year” by the Florida Athletic Coaches Association for the 2017-2018 school year.

The award will be presented to the school on Sept. 28 during the Bulldogs’ football game against Lakeland Santa Fe Catholic — the first homecoming first game in school history.

“This is a great honor for our school and athletics program here,” said Athletic Director Jim Nichols. “At Mount Dora Christian Academy, we believe we have the best student athletes and coaches. It’s also great to work somewhere where you have the support from the board, administration, faculty and staff. Our student athletes and coaches work tremendously hard on and off the field and I am excited for them.

“We’re striving to be the best we can be each and every day and this goes to show that we’re doing the right thing and building for the future.”

MDCA is the first area school to receive the award in any classification.

The award, named for the FACA’s second executive director, is presented annually to one school in each of the FHSAA’s nine classifications. First presented in 2010, the FACA presents the award based on Whole School Membership — the number of coaches at each school who are members of the FACA — and how each school’s athletic program finished in the Florida High School Athletic Association’s Floyd E. Lay Sunshine Cup All-Sports Award.

The Sunshine Cup All-Sports Award is a year-long competition. FHSAA-member schools are awarded points based on how they finished in each of the organization’s state series competitions.

Twenty points are awarded for winning state championships, 12 for a second-place finish and nine for state semifinalists. Bonus points are given for winning district and regional championships, and points are deducted for “unsporting conduct,” such as student athletes and/or coaches getting ejected from games.

In the final All-Sports Award standings, MDCA finished sixth overall among Class 4A/3A private schools with 66.8 points, based on its boys and girls teams.

However, the Bulldogs boys teams finished first in the state with 53.8 points, buoyed by a state title in boys cross country and solid finishes in boys basketball (Elite Eight) and baseball (Final Four). In addition, Jesiah Pierre won an individual championship in the discus at the state track and field finals.

The Bulldogs’ boys teams easily outdistanced Fort Myers Canterbury, which was second with 48.8 points.

MDCA’s girls teams closed out the year with 13 points and finished in a five-way tie with Tampa Prep, Bradenton Christian, Niceville Rocky Bayou Christian, and Miami Riviera Prep. Cooper Monn’s state title in the shot put and an Elite Eight finish for the softball team paced the Bulldogs.

There were also individual and team performances in district and regional tournaments, which also earned points for the boys and girls teams.

The FACA was founded in 1936 and has more than 5,000 current and former coaches in its membership. The organization lobbied the FHSAA for the creation of state championships in football, which began in 1962, and sponsors All-Star games in a variety of sports.