Lehighton’s Wentz wins scholar athlete
Lehighton Area High School senior football player Nolan Ryan Wentz became the second Lehighton football player in the past 12 years to earn the Lehigh Valley Football Scholar-Athlete Award.
Wentz earned the honor on March 4 at the 58th annual National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame Lehigh Valley Chapter banquet.
The annual banquet honors a high school football senior 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. The last winner from the Tribe was Kyle Brong in 2006. Wentz was honored to follow in his footsteps.
“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 offensive and a defensive tackle for a Lehighton team that went 10-0 during the regular season, and won 12 straight games before falling in the District 11 Class 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 16th out of 163 students in his class. He is a member of the National Honor Society, the Future Business Leaders of America and ski club. 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 Township, Carbon County.
“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.”
Representing Parkland at the banquet was Michael Ruisch. The quarterback ranks in the top 10 percent in a senior class of over 800 students. He is an Honor Roll student and was named to the All-Eastern Pennsylvania Conference Second Team. He also plays varsity basketball, volunteers with the Miracle League and is a youth sports coach.
Parkland graduate Fouad Nezar Haddad was also at the banquet. The defensive tackle represented Moravian College, where the physics major has a 3.20 grade-point average. Haddad is a dean’s list student, a recipient of the Jack R. Ridge Science Scholarsthip and the Exceptional Promise in Philosophy Award. He is a 2017 football team captain, a mentor in “The Five Star Heart Program,” and a member of the Society of Physics Students.