TAMPA — Jefferson High football coach Jeremy Earle told his quarterback, Deiondre Porter, to get dressed up Thursday morning because they were going to an awards ceremony.
“You’ve been nominated for something,” Earle said to Porter. “It’s a pretty big deal.”
Porter showed up at the Hillsborough County School Board building in a white shirt, white vest and white bow tie. He expected to see other football players who had been nominated for something.
“Then I saw all these girls (to accept other sports awards) and I said, ‘What is this?’ ” Porter said.
To Porter’s pleasant surprise a few minutes later, he was handed the Guy Toph trophy, given each year since 1939 to Hillsborough County’s top football player.
Porter was grinning.
To many, it would have been a surprise if Porter didn’t win the award, because he had one of the best seasons in county history, passing for 3,199 yards and 33 touchdowns, and rushing for 1,499 yards and 20 TD.
He led the Dragons to a 10-2 record and into the Class 6A region semifinals. In his final high school game, against Armwood, Porter threw for a season-high 456 yards and five touchdowns, and added 54 rushing yards and a TD.
But the fact the Dragons lost that game 52-48 left him in tears.
“I never thought that was the way it was going to end,” said Porter, who last week changed his verbal commitment from South Florida to the University of Florida. “But the good thing was that none of us can feel bad about what we did or how we played, because all of us gave it everything we had right to the end. I’m proud of everything we did this year.”
Other Hillsborough County awards presented Thursday — all based on athletic accomplishments as well as academic and public service achievements — included:
♦ Volleyball: Durant’s Lexi Thompson, who broke the school record with 364 kills and led her team to a 28-1 record.
♦ Girls cross country: Plant’s Anna Montgomery and Bailey Sullivan. Montgomery won the county championship individual title, and Sullivan had the fastest county time for the season and finished third at regional.
♦ Boys cross country: Robinson’s Blake Stanford, who fought through a leg injury and helped the Knights to a district title.
♦ Girls golf: Plant City’s Kellyanne Hurst, who helped the Raiders to a district title and to a couple of trips to the state tournament in her four years at the school.
♦ Boys golf: Jesuit’s Joseph Trim, who in his four years helped the Tigers to four district championships, a regional runner-up finish and two state tournament appearances.
♦ Girls swimming: Plant’s Ally Donahue, who won Class 4A state titles in the 100 breaststroke and the 50 freestyle.
♦ Boys swimming: Plant’s Kyle Kimura, who placed fourth in the 200 IM and 100 butterfly at the Class 4A state meet.
♦ Football lineman award: Plant’s Richard Bush, who helped the Panthers to an 11-2-1 record last season.