It's tough for defensemen in soccer to get recognition.
"There's no stats for them," said Durant High head coach Jamin Hollingsworth, who would know because he piled up the statistics as the school's all-time leading scorer.
That's why Hollingsworth was beaming to learn that Cougar senior Freeman Bass was named winner of the Jose Alvarez Award, given to the top soccer player in Hillsborough County.
Alvarez established the award 25 years ago. Each public and private school coach can nominate a player, and most of them tend to be teams' leading goal scorers.
Bass only scored seven times but was omnipresent in a Durant defensive unit that allowed only 26 goals, less than one per game. The Cougars went 25-3 this season and advanced to the 6A regional finals, where they lost to eventual state champion Melbourne.
Because every coach in the county voted for the winner and many of them got to see Bass in action, Hollingsworth knew the sweeper had a chance.
"The only school that went further than us was Freedom, and they didn't really have one standout scorer stat-wise," Hollingsworth said. "The main thing is having a defenseman win it, says more to me about the quality of his play than his numbers."
Even though Bass knew he was up for the honor, he wasn't sure he was the winner until Alvarez started speaking about him at the April 16 ceremony, held annually at the Alvarez residence in Apollo Beach.
Bass was joined there by the girls award winner, Freedom's Monique LaMotte.
"I was very surprised," Bass said. "I really didn't know what was going on at first."
The next step in Bass' career will be at the University of Florida. The Gators do not have a sanctioned Division I men's soccer program, but Bass will play for their club team.