- Adam Lichtenstein Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Jordan Travis is used to playing in big football games. Public speaking is another thing.
He had to do the latter Monday night after being named the Palm Beach County High School Player of the Year at the Lou Groza Awards Banquet at the Kravis Center.
“Extremely nervous, for sure,” Travis said. “Saw all those people out there. I did not know there were that many.
“The speech was way more nerve-wracking.”
Travis is following in the footsteps of Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson — a dual-threat quarterback going from Palm Beach County to Louisville to play college football, and he matched Jackson again by winning Player of the Year. Jackson won the award in 2014.
Travis, Benjamin’s star quarterback, won the award over Palm Beach Central junior defensive back Akeem Dent, a 2019 Florida State commit, and Palm Beach Gardens senior defensive back Gurvan Hall, who’s committed to the Miami Hurricanes.
“It’s a blessing,” Travis said.
The senior led the Buccaneers to the regional finals, where they lost to Hollywood-Chaminade Madonna, which is playing for the Class 3A state title on Saturday. Travis passed for 2,190 yards and 24 touchdowns this season while rushing for 905 yards and 16 more scores.
Travis is the first player from Benjamin to win High School Player of the Year, and the third individual from the program to win one of the awards — kicker Will Rhody was named Placekicker of the Year in 1999, and coach Ron Ream was named Coach of the Year in 1992.
“It’s an honor,” he said. “It was a good move for me to move to Benjamin. Great coaching staff. It feels great.”
Outside of Player of the Year, Forest Hill swept the high school awards.
Coach Jude Blessington was honored as the Sam Budnyk Coach of the Year, beating out Pahokee’s Orson Walkes and Seminole Ridge’s James Parson. Falcons kicker Christian Rizzo was named Placekicker of the Year; Benjamin’s Lowell Carr, Jupiter’s Tanner Nairn and Suncoast’s Dawson Suncine were finalists for the place-kicker award. Rizzo made one field goal this season while going 26-for-29 on extra points.
Blessington and Rizzo are the first individuals from Forest Hill to ever win a Groza Award.
To close out the night, the Falcons, who went 8-2 and made the playoffs for the first time in 21 years, were named Team of the Year, winning over Oxbridge Academy and Palm Beach Central.
“We asked them to do something that a lot of people said you guys can’t do,” Blessington said. “And they didn’t care. They kind of went above what’s going on in the county these days and the country: they put others before themselves.”