Aquinas football made history five weeks ago and the accolades are still pouring in.
After leading the Irish to their first state championship, junior Ruben Garnett won the Deon Grant Player of the Year Award at the All-Area Football Banquet, which was held Thursday evening at the Legends Club.
The event, presented by The Augusta Chronicle and the Augusta Sports Council, recognized the First Team All-Area selections for Georgia, South Carolina and the independent schools and was held in partnership with Queensborough National Bank & Trust Company, American Family Insurance, Augusta Coca-Cola and Johannsen Sporting Goods.
Garnett still has another year left, meaning there could be more awards on his way.
“Deep down, I just want to be the best and remembered as the best,” he said. “Me working hard, that’s just always been me and will continue to be me.”
Grant presented the award named for him, adding a short story about Garnett going on a date alongside Grant’s godsister.
“It means a lot, knowing that we’re recognizing the youth from this particular area. That’s what it’s all about,” Grant said. “Any chance that I get to come home and speak and present the youth with anything, I try to make sure I’m there.”
Garnett and the Irish went 14-0 and won the Class A private state title. He rushed for 1,928 yards and 22 touchdowns, had 279 receiving yards and five TDs and made 58 tackles. Garnett is the second Aquinas player in three years to win the Deon Grant Award. Brendan Douglas earned the honor in 2011.
Besides Garnett, Strom Thurmond’s Jauveer Hammond and Augusta Prep’s Nolan Brandon were up for the award after being named the South Carolina and independent players of the year, respectively.
Richmond County punter Gardner Duckworth was another individual high school award recipient, as he was named the Augusta Sports Council Punter of the Year.
The junior was the Musketeers’ special teams ace, delivering a punt that traveled as far as 69 yards.
He was one of many brought up on stage to honor for this past season’s achievements, including the coaches.
“It’s pretty special,” said Silver Bluff coach Al Lown, who was this season’s South Carolina Coach of the Year, about the banquet. “I’ve always tried to come to it, even if I wasn’t coach of the year. I know how much the recognition of all the hard work means to the kids.”