It is one of the most prestigious honors in high school sports, and Reilly Hennessey found out about it all alone, after practice Thursday evening, checking his Twitter, when some guy from Tennessee he had never heard of broke the news.
Reilly Hennessey, quarterback from Camas, is the Gatorade Washington Football Player of the Year.
“Wow, this isn’t happening,” Hennessey said to himself as he looked at the link provided by that person from Tennessee.
Oh yes it is.
Hennessey became the first player from Camas to claim the honor and second from Clark County. Travis Claridge of Fort Vancouver was named the state player of the year in 1996.
By being named the state POY, Hennessey is nominated for the national player of the year. Last year, Skyline quarterback Max Browne took the national honor. That is all Hennessey knew about the Gatorade award, from Browne’s performance.
“I didn’t even know I was up for it,” said Hennessey, an Eastern Washington University commit. “My coach nominated me. My dad sent the transcripts. It honestly never crossed my mind.”
The award, according to a press release from Gatorade, recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character on and off the field.
Hennessey has led Camas to a 13-0 record while throwing for 36 touchdowns and more than 3,200 yards. He also carries a 3.44 grade-point average.
The Papermakers play Chiawana of Pasco in the Class 4A state championship game Saturday night in the Tacoma Dome.
“It’s always cool to get those awards, but two days before the big game ...” Hennessey said. “I’m trying to take it lightly and stay focused right now. It’s kind of on my mind, but there’s something bigger on my mind right now.”
He also said he was having a difficult time grasping what just happened to him. Camas coach Jon Eagle and Reilly’s dad, Patrick, kept the nomination process a secret from the quarterback. Then, to be named the top player, well, it was almost too much to handle.
“I think of all the players in the state and all the phenomenal athletes and all the people I try not to compare myself because I know they are better in a lot of aspects of the game,” Reilly Hennessey said. “It’s really humbling and inspiring to be put in that category with those guys.”
If he could, Hennessey would give the award to all of his teammates.
“I hate being the guy who takes all the credit because football is such a team sport,” he said. “You can’t do anything on your own in football. It takes 11 guys on the field doing 11 things right to be successful. So much of my success is not from my individual effort but from the guys around me.”
That is not how sports awards go, though, so for the 2013-14 school year, it is Reilly Hennessey’s name on the winner’s list.
“Crazy,” he said.