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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
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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