The finalists for the Bill Minahan Award in football and flag football were not selected solely for what they did on the field. The criteria had to do more with leadership, loyalty and compassion — among the many traits that best describe the former Jesuit football coach the award is named after.
Berkeley Prep offensive lineman Jared Watson and Steinbrenner wide receiver/linebacker Casey Contreras, the two winners, embodied those characteristics.
Watson, who was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma last year, devoted plenty of his time helping other children while going through the grueling stages of chemotherapy. He also spent more than 500 hours with community service projects, such as Meals on Wheels and Feeding Tampa Bay.
Contreras, now in her fourth season with the Warriors’ flag football team, has served as a particularly on the academic side. Her help is a big reason Steinbrenner is the four-time defending Class 2A academic state champions, an honor awarded to the team with the highest combined GPA.
“(The award) is more than just how I am as a player or what I do on the field,” Contreras said. “It means a lot to get an award that’s based on more than that, one that is based more on my character and how I serve others in my community.
“It’s really important to me to make sure that the blessings I’ve received throughout my life I’m giving back to others”
Watson and Contreras each received a scholarship check for $2,500.
The other finalists, who each received a $1,500 scholarship, included:
- Henry Griffin, Wharton: The defensive tackle/linebacker overcame the loss of his father to excel in academics and athletics. He plans to honor his father;s Navy background by serving in the United States military.
- Deon Silas, Steinbrenner: The 2019 Minahan Award winner is an Iowa State signee who has been elected the Warriors’ team captain a school record three straight seasons.
- Deborah Carvajal, Leto: The student government officer also is an academic leader and is passionate about changing the culture at her school.
- Catalina Rodriguez-Kretz, Sumner: She is president of the Student Government Association, a member of JROTC and is on the school’s swim, soccer and flag football team.
Minahan, who died in 2013, coached at area high schools for 38 years, including 28 at Jesuit, where he led the Tigers to the 1968 state football title — the only one in school history. Minahan’s widow, Martha, was instrumental in starting the award in 2015. More than $55,000 in scholarships have been given to winners and finalists in the past seven years.