The 48th annual C. Markland Kelly lacrosse awards banquet last night confirmed what everyone had begun to realize during the season: that St. Paul's Tim Whiteley was the best lacrosse player in the Maryland Scholastic Association.
Whiteley walked off with that prestigious award just two days before he and his St. Paul's teammates try to become the first team in 20 years to go unbeaten through the tough MSA A Conference regular season and playoffs.
Whiteley has 37 goals and 45 assists in a 16-0 season.
St. Paul's can complete the unbeaten run with a win over Boys' Latin tomorrow in the MSA A Conference championship game at UMBC at 5 p.m.
Last night's conference award winners were: goalkeeper Thaddaeus Reyer, Northwestern, C Conference; attackman Keith Gucwa, Cardinal Gibbons, B Conference; midfielder Jimmy Virts, Archbishop Curley, BB Conference; and Whiteley, A Conference.
Whiteley is coming off the greatest game of his career, says Mitch Whiteley, his coach and father. Tim Whiteley scored four goals and had four assists in a 12-6 win over Calvert Hall on Tuesday in the MSA A Conference semifinals.
"Tim's overall play in that game was his best, I thought," said Mitch Whiteley. "He was riding, checking, scoring, getting ground balls and getting assists. It was a big game and he was focused."
But Mitch Whiteley didn't want to get carried away about anything until tomorrow's game is over.
Tim Whiteley also was low-key after winning the biggest lacrosse award of his lacrosse-dominated life. He wanted to make sure he didn't say anything to fire up Boys' Latin.
When his mother, Celia McGrain, said her son played hurt all season, the young Whiteley nodded for his mom to be quiet.
"It [pulled right quadriceps muscle] has been with me for a while, but it didn't really affect my play," said Whiteley, who has been the St. Paul's scoring leader for four years. "I just kept playing through it and it didn't stop me from doing what I'm capable of."
Whiteley is one of those rare award winners who was on top of his career from the beginning (third grade) until the end of his senior year.
"Tim was always able to take the next step up," said Mitch Whiteley. "Sure it was tough for him playing for his father. But he got yanked and yelled at as much as anybody."
In the back of his mind, Tim Whiteley always felt he had a chance to win the Kelly Award, but it never really hit home until yesterday during practice at St. Paul's when his teammate Rob Bouse starting calling him "Kelly."
"I came to these banquets as a kid with my father to see other people nominated for the Kelly Award and I dreamed that I would win it someday," he said.