Morocco Brown, a three-sport star at Kecoughtan High, and Menchville's Sadie Jackson, a state champion in indoor track, were named the Daily Press male and female high school athletes of the year Thursday night.
In the sixth-annual spring banquet at the Radisson Hotel, Brown was chosen ahead of Lafayette junior Seneca Lassiter, one of the nation's top milers and Group AAA cross country champion, and Menchville senior Robert Hunt, the state indoor and outdoor shot put champion.
The two other female finalists were Menchville senior Katherine Creswell, the Group AAA all-around gymnastics champion, and Ferguson senior Rebecca Cline,a four-time Peninsula District cross country champion.
Brown was captain of Kecoughtan's football, basketball and baseball teams as a senior. He was voted the Peninsula District player of the year by the football coaches after an all-state season as a 215-pound linebacker. Brown, who also played fullback and was a key factor in Kecoughtan's 9-2 season, signed a football letter of intent with North Carolina State.
Brown averaged 9.6 points a game as a shooting guard for the Warriors, who finished 22-8. As a pitcher, he was 8-1 during the regular season with a 1.75 ERA. He also hit .316 as Kecoughtan advanced to the Eastern Region quarterfinals.
``This is what I've worked for,'' Brown said of the award. ``I haven't been thinking about it, but this was the last thing for me to get. I thank God I got this and my teammates. I didn't do this by myself.
``I'll look at this the rest of the night, and I'll put it in my trophy case. This is probably the biggest. The MVP was an honor and the other awards, but this has more people involved.''
Jackson won the indoor state 500-meter title with a time of 1:15.2 and was ranked first in the nation in that event by USA Today. She ran the second leg of Menchville's 1,600-meter indoor relay team that broke the state meet record at 3:52.6.
Jackson also had a strong outdoor season, breaking the district meet record in the 400 meters with a time of 55.8 and winning the district's 100 hurdles title in 14.7.
Jackson signed the entire program, including the awards presentation and guest speaker Bobby Cremins' speech, to her mother, who has been deaf since the age of 5.
``This was very much a surprise,'' said Jackson, who hasn't decided on what college to attend. ``My mom is really excited. To just be nominated is an honor.''
Cremins, Georgia Tech's men's basketball coach, gave the athletes several messages. He used two examples, both former opponents of his in the Atlantic Coast Conference: Maryland All-American Len Bias and North Carolina State coach Jim Valvano. Bias died in 1986 of cocaine-induced heart failure; Valvano died of cancer last year.
``Lenny Bias was a fantastic player,'' Cremins said. ``We all learn from different crisis, but Lenny didn't have a chance to learn from his. He died from his. ... If you want to make your life miserable, the best way is drugs. I had hoped what happened to Lenny Bias would make a difference, but I'm not sure it has.''
Cremins told the athletes how he asked Valvano, after he left State, to give the Yellow Jackets a pre-game speech. Valvano, dying of cancer at the time, had a simple message: Enjoy life.
``Everybody here looks healthy,'' Cremins said. ``I hope we all can appreciate the gift of life.''Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun