After 43,692 total votes were cast, including 24,963 in the championship round alone, Carroll High School senior Drue Tranquill was crowned as the News-Sentinel.com Prep Football Fan Choice Player of the Year on Sunday.
After a back-and-forth battle throughout the weekend, Tranquill (13,158 or 52.71 percent) pulled away from Bishop Dwenger High School senior quarterback Mike Fiacable (11,805 or 47.29 percent) late to earn the honor by 1,353 votes.
Twitter was alive all weekend with teammates and classmates of the finalists, encouraging others to vote for Tranquill and Fiacable.
“It just feels great knowing I have all that support,” Tranquill said. “It is funny but cool at the same time to see everyone going back and forth (on social media).”
The 6-foot-2, 212-pound Tranquill helped lead Carroll to a 9-3 record and the program's second-consecutive sectional championship. He rushed for 1,403 yards and 28 touchdowns on 114 carries, an average of 12.3 yards per carry.
He also caught 16 passes for 348 yards and five scores.
Defensively, Tranquill notched 62 tackles at linebacker, including 18 tackles for loss. He also had four sacks and an interception.
He will head to Notre Dame in the spring to play for Coach Brian Kelly and the Fighting Irish. He will begin his career as a defensive athlete, likely at safety unless he puts on significantly more weight.
The 16-player tournament began early last week and was whittled down to the final two over several days. A total of 73,162 (and still growing) readers clicked on the voting pages, and while the competition was heated, many of the nominees had fun with the experience.
“In the semifinals, me, (South Side's Donovan Clark) and (Fiacable) were group messaging back and forth,” Tranquill said. “It is a cool thing to have after the season after we've all had successful careers.”
Despite falling short in the finals, Fiacable also had fun with the fan voting throughout the week.
“When these kinds of things pop up, it really shows how much people care about you and how much people would do for you,” Fiacable said. “You have no idea who they are and they support you.”