tampabay.com

Marve named Mr. Football

 Before last season, it would have been understandable if Plant coach Bob Weiner's coaching peers questioned his sanity.

By SCOTT PURKS
Published January 23, 2007


TAMPA - Before last season, it would have been understandable if Plant coach Bob Weiner's coaching peers questioned his sanity.

Weiner, after all, announced far and wide his quarterback, Robert Marve, was the best player in the state.

Marve had thrown for a pedestrian 900 yards as a sophomore and 1,600 as a junior. He was skinny and slow.

Best quarterback in the state? Really?

He is now.

On Monday Marve, who led the Panthers to a 15-0 record and the Class 4A state title, was named "Mr. Florida Football," given each year to the state's best player by the Florida Dairy Farmers Association. He is the first from the Tampa Bay area to receive the honor since Robinson's Zain Gilmore (1997-98). Weiner was the state's coach of the year.

"Our best chances as human beings is to live up to the expectations we place on ourselves," Weiner said. "I had very high expectations for Robert Marve."

Marve, whose top choices for college are Alabama and Miami, said between school, homework and football he worked 12 to 13 hours a day, whether in season or not.

By the time the season rolled around, he weighed 195 pounds, bench pressed 300 and ran a 4.6-second, 40-yard dash.

"In my 30-plus years of coaching, I have never seen a player improve more from his junior to senior year," Hillsborough High coach Earl Garcia said.

Marve finished with single-season state records for yardage (4,343), touchdowns (48) and completions (278) and did much of it in dramatic fashion (such as the last-minute drive to win the state final over Ponte Vedra Beach Nease).

"You know," Marve said, "I was never really nervous. After all that work and focus on all those days, I wanted to be put in that situation. I wanted the ball. I wanted to lead my team."