Wentz wins LV football scholar athlete award
Lehighton Area High School senior football player Nolan Ryan Wentz made history for his school and football program Sunday night, March 4.
Wentz became the second Indians student-athlete since 2006 to be awarded the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame football scholar athlete award at the 58th annual banquet at Northampton’s Banquet and Event Center.
The Lehigh Valley Chapter of the Foundation holds the annual banquet to honor a high school football student-athlete from one of 33 schools that best represents achievements both on and off the football field.
Lehighton has been represented by a student-athlete from the football team at the event every year since 1963, Wentz gave the Indians program their first since Kyle Brong won the honor.
“It was just a great night,” said Wentz. “You look at all of the other guys here, they do so well on the football field and in the classroom. It’s just so humbling to win this award with so many other great candidates. It’s awesome that they continue to put an event like this on every year.”
Along with the 33 high schools around the greater Lehigh Valley area represented, six football student-athletes from local universities were also honored. Players from Lafayette, Lehigh, East Stroudsburg, Kutztown, Moravian and Muhlenberg were in attendance.
Wentz was a center on the offensive line and a defensive tackle along the defensive front for a Lehighton team that experienced a ton of success during the 2017 season. The Indians went 10-0 during the regular season, and won 12-straight games before falling to Palisades in the District 11 3A championship game. Wentz earned First-Team All-State and First-Team All-Conference offensive honors.
“It was a big deal for us, for our school and our town,” said Wentz. “I’ve been playing football with most of my teammates since the seventh grade. So being able to have a season like that is something I’ve always dreamed about. It was a great year.”
Off the football field, Wentz is an honor roll student that ranks 16 out of 163 students in his senior class. He is a member of the National Honor Society, the FBLA and ski clubs. He is a math academic tutor and volunteers doing fundraising with Trees for Troops and Families in Need.
Wentz is a member of Saint John’s Evangelical Church in Mahoning, and is active inside the church.
“I’m most proud of my involvement with my church,” Wentz said. “Especially with my youth group. We’re putting on a lot of different events and raising a lot of money. We go on different trips and help people in need.”
Former Philadelphia Eagles Pro-Bowl kicker David Akers was the keynote speaker and delivered a strong message to the student-athletes and everyone in attendance. He talked about staying strong and never giving up on your dreams. Akers mentioned how he was released three different times during his career before having the strong 15-year career, 12 being with the Eagles.
“It was really great getting to meet and listen to David Akers,” said Wentz, who is an Eagles fan. “He is a great speaker and really knows how to motivate. His story is interesting and one that will stick with me.”
Bethlehem Catholic High School was represented by Jacob Kanyuk.
Kanyuk is a 6-2, 240-pound center and defensive end. He is in the top 10-percent in a class of 200 students. He is an honor roll student, member of the National Honor Society, and is a math and history academic tutor. He participates in the class play and musical, is a yearbook staff member, a member of the Key and Business Clubs, girls’ basketball statistician and participates in varsity tennis and track. He is a member of the Mini-Thon Fundraising Committee, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, an altar server, and a sacristan.
Freedom High School was represented by Jaequan T. Swint.
Swint is a 6-3, 240-pound offensive tackle, who ranks 99 out of 452 students. He is an honor roll student and participates in varsity track. He is a member of the Black and Gold Gridiron Club and is a youth football camp volunteer and is active in his community.
Liberty High School was represented by Jaden I. Vazquez.
Vazquez is a 6-2, 185-pound defensive back who ranks 66 out of 637 students. He is an honor roll student and member of the National Honor Society. He earned First Team All-Conference defensive honors. He participates in varsity track, indoor track and the band. He volunteers with Young Life and Football Fridays with Mettle Movements, which teaches younger children to play football.