TAMPA — Two days away from his team playing nationally ranked Miami Central in the Class 6A state football championship in Orlando, an emotional Sean Callahan accepted a prestigious award in the presence of his peers and players Thursday during the 45th annual National Football Foundation Tampa Chapter High School Coaches Luncheon.
Callahan, Armwood High’s head coach the past 24 years, was this year’s recipient of the 2013 Billy Turner Coach of the Year Award, given annually to a head football coach in Hillsborough County. It was Callahan’s third time receiving the award, but the most meaningful.
“Just because of what we went through,” he said.
Callahan addressed the 2011 season in which the Florida High School Athletic Association investigated his program for use of ineligible players. The investigation ultimately led to his program being stripped of its 2011 state title, 2010 state runner-up title and vacating 26 wins.
“I always told my kids, when the time comes you’ll have to deal with adversity,” a teary-eyed Callahan told a crowd of 375, which included head football coaches, assistant coaches, players, officials and school district administrators. “We cut our teeth on it, but it makes you better.”
The investigation did not link any coach or teacher to five instances of parents falsifying addresses to gain enrollment.
“I wouldn’t be able to (overcome) it without the people around me,” Callahan said.
Kirk Karsen, the defensive coordinator at Sickles, was named the 2013 Roland Acosta Assistant Coach of the Year. Karsen also coached at Chamberlain and Hillsborough. Jesuit’s football team was the recipient of the West Coast Officials Association Sportsmanship Award, given to the team that best demonstrated sportsmanship throughout the season. The award is based on reports filed by officials throughout the season.
In addition, longtime official Thom Powers and Bloomingdale assistant coach David Hutcherson were given special awards for their contributions to the sport.
Porter earns honor
Jefferson senior quarterback Deiondre Porter was named the Big County Preps Player of the Year during a small ceremony in Jefferson High’s auditorium Thursday morning.
Porter, who has verbally committed to South Florida, led Jefferson to a 10-2 record and finished the season with 3,199 passing yards and 33 passing touchdowns along with 1,499 rushing yards and 20 rushing touchdowns.
The award goes to the best overall player in Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas and Polk counties. Big County Preps, a Tampa-based scouting service, organizes and directs recruiting showcases, combines and team events each year in the Tampa area.
“You all are the reason I’m up here right now,” Porter said to his teammates sitting in the auditorium. “I couldn’t have done it without you boys.”