First a state champ. Now, Mr. Football.
Not a bad junior season for Mandarin quarterback Carson Beck.
The Mustangs star became the area’s seventh winner of the state’s top individual award when results were announced Saturday morning after balloting by media across the state.
Unlike Mandarin’s razor-thin win over Miami Columbus in the Class 8A title game earlier this month, Mr. Football wasn’t close, thanks in part to Beck’s performance in the final game of the season. Beck collected 15 of a possible 23 first-place votes, ahead of Lakeland running back Demarkcus Bowman.
“I’ve got to give the credit to my coaches, my receivers, my offensive linemen,” Beck said. “I know that’s what everybody tells you to say, but it’s true. Without the athleticism they have, none of this is possible.”
Beck authored the most memorable game of the state championship week in Orlando, passing for five touchdowns and 329 yards in the finale, a 37-35 win over previously unbeaten Columbus that went down to the final minute. That cemented Mandarin’s unbelievable turnaround, from 2-8 in 2017 to king of the mountain in Florida’s largest classification.
In a double victory for Mandarin, Mustangs coach Bobby Ramsay was selected as the state’s coach of the year after leading the Mustangs from a 2-8 record last year to the title.
“I feel like our whole team grew this year, not just as football players but as people,” Beck said. “Coach Ramsay’s one of the most influential people I’ve been around.”
Area players have won the award in even-numbered years ever since iconic Yulee running back Derrick Henry claimed the honor in 2012. De’Andre Johnson of First Coast won in 2014 and Ponte Vedra quarterback Nick Tronti took the award in 2016.
But among area Mr. Football winners, only Beck and Nease product Tim Tebow (2005) captured the award after winning state championships.
Now, Beck joins a Mr. Football fraternity that includes the likes of Henry, Tebow, Anquan Boldin, Daunte Culpepper, Dalvin Cook, Matt Elam and Travis Henry, all of whom went on to become first- or second-round NFL draft picks.
Beck, who transferred from Providence before his junior season after a solid baseball and football tenure with the Stallions, still isn’t done in high school. The Alabama commit still has a season to go, although it will be difficult to top 2018.
Beck passed for 3,546 yards and 39 touchdowns in 14 games to help give Mandarin just the fourth Florida High School Athletic Association state championship by a Duval County public school. Raines, which won back-to-back titles in 2017-18, has the other three.
Four of the area’s seven Mr. Football winners are from Duval County. St. Johns County has two and Nassau County one. Ramsay, who coached Henry during his record-shattering career at Yulee, has now coached two of the last seven Mr. Football winners.
“I thought about that,” Ramsay said of coaching both Henry and Beck. “It’s fun to compare those two because they have similar characteristics in how they prepare to play the game, the way they practice, the way they see the game in a little bit broader of a view than what normal high school kids do.”
Ramsay becomes Northeast Florida’s sixth coach to win the statewide honor, following Bob Withrow of Sandalwood (1995), Robby Pruitt of Union County (1996), Danny Green of Columbia (1997), Joey Wiles of St. Augustine (2005) and Deran Wiley of Raines (2015). He received 11 first-place votes, closely followed by longtime Lakeland coach Bill Castle in Class 7A.
“You look at any head coaching award as a team award, it’s recognition for the staff and players, everybody should share in it,” Ramsay said. “I didn’t make any tackles, anything like that, score any touchdowns. The hands-on job the assistants did this year made a big difference.”
Trinity Christian running back Marcus Crowley (Class 5A) placed third in voting for Mr. Football, while Raines running back Brandon Marshall (Class 4A) was fifth. Raines coach Wiley placed third in voting for coach of the year.