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High school football: Lorain High quarterback Justin Sturgill named Golden Helmet winner

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    Lorain quarterback Justin Sturgill receives the Golden Helmet Award from Gregory Finton of Coca-Cola during Monday night's Lorain football banquet.

    STEVE MANHEIM / CHRONICLE

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LORAIN — For someone not even expected to be Lorain’s No. 1 quarterback two years ago, Justin Sturgill did pretty well at the position.

Monday night at Lorain High’s football banquet, Sturgill took home the prestigious Golden Helmet Award as the best senior in Lorain County. The award, in its 52nd year, has been presented annually by the Elyria Coca Cola Company since Elyria’s Randy Stevenson won the first one in 1965.

“I am shocked right now,” Sturgill said upon receiving the award in front of a huge gathering at the school’s cafeteria. “It’s unbelievable. I am very thankful for this.”

Sturgill moved to quarterback after injuries forced him to take over the position midway through last season. Sturgill led the Titans to a Lake Erie League title, the Division I regional final and a 10-3 record.

“He was a varsity starter but paid attention to quarterback and took reps when he could and took us to the regional championship game,” Lorain coach Dave McFarland said.

An honor student, Sturgill did what was asked of him prior to being handed the reins of the offense.

“Before that, I was frustrated,” Sturgill said of his role. “I wasn’t getting much playing time. I’m 5-10, 165 (pounds), wasn’t the biggest kid out there. I was kicking off, playing long snapper — never expected that to happen.

“When (McFarland) told me I was going to go in, I was like, ‘OK.’ I knew it was going to be a big role. I embraced it. I am thankful for that. Every time I get on the field, I am blessed to be on that field.”

Sturgill never wavered in his confidence or leadership. He always praised his teammates when interviewed after games and always had the respect of his teammates and coaches.

This season, all Sturgill did was complete 104 of 175 passes for 1,424 yards and 22 touchdowns. He threw just three interceptions and rushed for another 293 yards and three touchdowns.

He accounted for 128 of Lorain’s points as the Titans finished 8-3, losing on a late score in the first round of the playoffs to state-ranked and unbeaten Toledo Whitmer on Whitmer’s field.

Not bad for a fill-in quarterback.

Through his career, Sturgill wore No. 29, a number not usually worn by a quarterback but he had a good reason for picking it.

“Ever since seventh grade,” he said. “my brother (Brandon) had 29 to start. Me and him would always have arguments at the time. We would always fight over the jersey. I dedicated this whole season to him.”

His proud parents — Nicole and Stephen — and younger sister Adrianna were all in attendance.

“He’s always been a high character guy since I met him,” McFarland said. “You’ve just got to love his work ethic and his integrity. He’s everything you’d want in a kid. Everything you’d want in your own kid. Everything you’d want in a football player. I know everyone says that but that’s truly Justin Sturgill.”

Sturgill is the first Golden Helmet recipient from Lorain since tailback Dennis Washington shared the award in 1987 with Elyria West’s Tyrone Nelson. Washington played for the Lorain High Steelmen, the original Lorain High which closed its doors in 1995.

Sturgill hasn’t made up his mind yet where he’ll go to college but he does hope to play. He’s weighing offers from several schools and has been admitted to Bowling Green, Mount Union, Youngstown State, Toledo and Oberlin.

“He’s going to be successful in anything he does,” McFarland said.

Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or timothygeb@msn.com.

Lorain County Golden Helmet winners

GOLDEN HELMET WINNER: Justin Sturgill, Lorain

SPECIAL MENTION: Chris Mullins, Avon

HONORABLE MENTION: Jake Marinelli, Avon Lake; Anthony Terry, Clearview; Johnanthony Lowery, Elyria; Donovan Warfield, Elyria Catholic; Nick Denney, Firelands; Connor Wolfe, Midview; Shomari Williams, North Ridgeville; Trevor Boyd, Vermilion

Past winners

Year Player, School Position

1965 Randy Stevenson, Elyria Linebacker

1966 Ralph Holloway, Oberlin FB/Middle guard

1967 Dick Wakefield, Avon Lake End

1968 Jim Svoboda, Lorain End/Linebacker

1969 John Husband, Elyria Fullback

1970 Kurt Schumacher, Lorain Fullback/Tackle

1971 Ike Maxwell, Elyria Tailback

1972 Bob Hyatt, Keystone Halfback; Gus Mecera, Clearview Tackle/Tackle

1973 Bruce Yeager, Elyria Cath. FB/Middle guard

1974 Tim Burns, Wellington Tailback; Steve Holovacs, Clearview Tailback

1975 Virgil Williams, Lorain Halfback

1976 Greg Jones, Elyria West Tailback

1977 Bryan Thomas, Elyria Cath. Tailback

1978 Craig Best, North Ridgeville Tailback

1979 Jon Burger, Elyria LB/Kicker

1980 Jeff Mey, Vermilion Tailback

1981 Vince Villanucci, Lorain Lineman

1982 John Berner, Avon Lake Tailback

1983 Bob Calamari, Admiral King Quarterback; Brian Schneider, Elyria Cath. Fullback

1984 Al McKinney, Elyria Cath. Tailback

1985 Jeff Seasor, North Ridgeville Linebacker

1986 David Lyons, Clearview Fullback

1987 Tyrone Nelson, Elyria West Tailback; Dennis Washington, Lorain Tailback

1988 Steve Tovar, Elyria West Linebacker

1989 Tony Godbolt, Elyria Tailback

1990 Erik Engel, North Ridgeville Tailback

1991 Ron Leshinski, Vermilion Tight End

1992 Ty Grude, Firelands Quarterback; LaRon Trice, Elyria West TB/DT

1993 Tim Schumacher, Avon Lake Tackle/Tackle

1994 Jerel Klue, North Ridgeville Linebacker

1995 Ricky Schneider, Amherst Quarterback

1996 Zach Mitchell, Avon FB/Linebacker

1997 Ryan Myers, Wellington FB/Linebacker; Erik Rogers, Vermilion Tailback

1998 Matt Wilhelm, Elyria Cath. TB/Linebacker

1999 Dan Rozanski, Midview TB/Linebacker

2000 Jeff Strauch, Avon Lake Tailback

2001 Brian Cesear, Amherst FB/Linebacker

2002 Dustin Intihar, Columbia Tailback

2003 John Schroeder, Avon Lake Tailback

2004 Trey Stross, Avon Lake WR/DB

2005 P.J. Mahone, Elyria TB/DB

2006 John McGraw, N. Ridgeville Tailback

2007 Mike Haddad, Avon Lake Tailback

2008 Ryan O’Rourke, Avon Quarterback

2009 Anthony Hitchens, Clearview Tailback

2010 Danny Reaser, Elyria Catholic Quarterback

2011 Matt Eckhardt, Avon Wide Receiver

2012 Tracy Sprinkle, Elyria Defensive End

2013 Jay Banyasz, Columbia Quarterback

2014 C.J. Conrad, Keystone Tight End

2015 Logan Bolin, Midview Wide Receiver

2016 Dustin Crum, Midview Quarterback

2017 Justin Sturgill, Lorain Quarterback



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