As one of 12 national finalists honored, Clark was among coaches named from Arkansas, South Dakota, Texas, South Carolina, Colorado, Massachusetts, Oregon, Missouri, Minnesota and Oklahoma. Coach Allan Trimble of Jenks High School in Oklahoma was named the 2017 award winner.
"I am very honored to have been selected for the American Football Coaches Association final 12 in the United States, for their Power of Influence award. I was nominated by the state association to be one of 12, and that's pretty special," Clark said. "To me, the award is not just about wins and losses, but relationships and helping young people to be great citizens.
“On the other side, if you don't get enough wins, you probably don't get to stick around to influence many people," Clark joked.
The Power of Influence Award was created as way for the AFCA and AFCF to honor a deserving high school football coach. Coaches who receive the award are recognized for their impact on their team and players, as well as the legacy they leave with the school and surrounding community.
"That's why you get into it," Clark said. "Seeing a young man come back a success in life that maybe a lot of people didn't expect to become a success ... that means more than anything. I may not dance as much as I do after a win, but it’s pretty heartwarming."
The award is not based on wins and losses; however, it should be noted that coaches of powerful influence have longevity and success.
"Coach Graham Clark is a Hall of Fame coach and an exceptional leader of young men," said D-B athletic director Larry Shively. "As successful as Coach Clark has been as a head coach on the football field, his positive influence in our community and state is immeasurable. Coach Clark has impacted thousands of lives over his 40 years as an educator and coach. He is a tireless worker that relentlessly promotes our storied high school while advocating for our student-athletes and our community. Coach Clark is widely regarded as a ‘coach's coach.’ He is one of the first resources that fellow coaches, often fierce competitors, look to for advice and guidance. This AFCA Power of Influence Award is a testament to Coach Clark's servant leadership."
Clark's prior coaching honors include: Big East Coach of the Year (1996, 1997, 2000, 2002, 2017); Hogoheege District Coach of the Year (1981); two-time Northeast Tennessee Coach of the Year; two-time Knoxville News-Sentinel 5A Coach of the Year; East-West Shrine Game Assistant Coach (1997); TACA TN-KY All-Star Assistant Coach (2003); TACA TN-KY All-Star Head Coach (2004); TACA Football Board (served three years); and TN Football Coaches Association President (2003, 2004).
In addition, Clark is Dobyns-Bennett's all-time winningest football coach. He has guided the Indian's football program to 17 conference championships with a record of 252 wins and 71 losses since 1993.