Great Day Of Recognition At NFF Central PA Scholar Athletes Banquet For Wildcats, Bobcats, Lions, Panthers And Others

Above photo by Anne Wiser: Just some of those of the local contingent who attended (L-R) Todd Smith, Tyler Albright. Alison Albright, Josh Albright, Dave Eggleton, Larry Wiser, Dave Louder, Kevin Slike, Doug Knepp, Ryan Hummell, Mike Hindman, Mike Ferguson, Jimmy Gunning, Lisa Gunning, Kelly Hummell, Raymond Monica, Dan Hummell, Dave McClaine.

The Central Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame held their annual Scholar Athletes Awards Banquet on Sunday, March 12th.

The criteria for a student athlete to be named their team’s scholar athlete include: academic achievement – forty percent of the score, athletic achievement – forty percent and extra curricular/community service participation – twenty percent. 

According to the national website: “Our mission is to promote and develop the power of amateur football in developing the qualities of leadership, sportsmanship, competitive zeal and the drive for academic excellence in America’s young people.”

The Central Pennsylvania Chapter is made up of the schools in the Central Pennsylvania Football Coaches Association, which conducts the Lezzer Lumber Classic Football All-Star Game.

Central Pennsylvania Chapter President Sam Phillips coordinated the ceremony, keeping things running well throughout.

Master of Ceremonies was WTAJ-TV’s John Tracy.

Two-Time Super Bowl Champion and former Penn State All-American offensive lineman Stefen Wisniewski was the keynote speaker. Wisniewski shared his Two Keys For Success – Having A Growth Mindset: 1) How can I grow and improve day to day and 2) Humility, Coachability and Teachability and Two Keys To Joy: 1) Don’t neglect faith (Wisniewski is a Christian and mentioned his faith is a motivator and 2) Mindset Of Gratitude (focusing on the good things in your life instead of the negative).

Announcing a number of the award winners was former Penn State Quarterback Wally Richardson.

Among those honored this year were Central Clarion’s Ryan Hummell, former Clarion-Limestone and PennWest University-Clarion player Jimmy Gunning and former Clarion Area Bobcats and Central Clarion Wildcats Hall of Fame coach Larry Wiser. Also honored was Keystone’s Tyler Albright whose head coach is former Clarion-Limestone head coach and Clarion Area assistant coach Todd Smith.

Annie Wiser photo: Awardees (L-R) Coach Wiser, Ryan Hummell, Tyler Albright and Jimmy Gunning.

Ryan, the son of Dan and Kelli Hummell, is the first player to who spent his entire varsity career with the Wildcats program, to be named the program’s NFF Scholar Athlete recipient.

Two of Ryan’s football accomplishments are: All-Conference linebacker, D9 League Region 1 Defensive MVP and Team Captain. Ryan also has been part of Clarion-Limestone’s baseball, basketball and track and field teams. He medaled in the javelin in the 2022 PIAA State Meet.

Ryan volunteers at the Wildcats Youth Football Camp and with Wreaths Across America.

In addition to being Central Clarion’s team recipient Ryan also received the a $1,000 Scholarship from Thrivent Mutual.

Annie Wiser photo: Ryan with Wildcats coaching staff in attendance (L-R) Dave Louder, Mike Ferguson, Head Coach Dave Eggleton, Doug Knepp, Kevin “Fonzie” Slike and Mike Hindman.

Coach Eggleton had this to say in Ryan’s program bio, “Ryan is the best linebacker I have ever coached. His ability to read defenses and diagnose plays is phenomenal. He has been the leader of our team on and off the field. Ryan is a natural leader. Ryan is the player that younger players look up to and emulate.”

Ryan is planning on attending Erie Institute of Technology and major in their Electrician Program.

Jimmy, the son of Lisa and the late John Gunning, received the College Scholar Athlete Award for PennWest University-Clarion. He is majoring in Business Management with a minor in Data Analytics.

Two of Jimmy’s accomplishments at PennWest-Clarion were starting all eleven games on the offensive line, in 2022, three-time PSAC Scholar-Athlete. Jimmy is also a member of the Millcreek Township Volunteer Fire Department.

Photo by Lisa Gunning: Coach Raymond Monica with Jimmy Gunning.

Pennwest-Clarion head coach Raymond Monica had some fine things to say about “Jimmy was a leader on our football team. He helped us a lot at our football camp this year. In the community, he’s from Clarion, so the community as well as the university means a lot to him.

“He is right now working as a student coach, with him finishing up his degree right now. He’ll be a graduate assistant starting in the fall as he works on his masters degree. I’m very happy to have him on our coaching staff and I know he’ll do a fine job.

“And anytime you get an honor like that, that is something that he’ll have for the rest of his life.”

Tyler, the son of Josh and Alison Albright, was a first team All-Conference wide receiver, safety and return specialist, Team Captain, two-time PFN All-Academic Gold Team. Tyler was All-Conference in basketball and track and was Captain of the track team.

Melissa Smith photo – Josh Albright (Tyler’s Dad and Keystone Assistant Coach), Tyler and Keystone Head Coach Todd Smith

Some of his other accomplishments include being a member of the National Honor Society, Student Government and Ski Club Vice President. Tyler volunteers for Children’s Church and Bible School, and the elementary flag football program.

Keystone Head Coach Todd Smith, who formerly coached the Clarion-Limestone and was an assistant coach at Clarion Area had this to say, “It was a wonderful banquet put on by the National Football Foundation Central Pa Chapter.  I am very proud of Tyler for all his accomplishments on the field this year, but also in the classroom. The Scholar-Athlete Award that he received recognizes the complete high school athlete, which is what makes it so special. He has worked so hard to get to where he is at.

“Tyler recently committed to play at the next level at Washington & Jefferson College as a Wide Receiver. There is no doubt he will be a great addition to their team.”

He plans to plans to major in Exercise Science/Pre-Physical Therapy.

“Congratulations to Ryan Hummell, Jimmy Gunning, and Larry Wiser on their awards today as well!”

And finally, coach Wiser, who coached the Clarion Area Bobcats from for thirty-one seasons and the Central Clarion Wildcats in their inaugural season, received the Central Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

He is a graduate of Bald Eagle Area and Clarion State College, and his wife Annie have two grown children, Ryan and Morgan and a grandson Kenny and Luckas.

Coach Wiser was one of two coaches to receive the award this year. The other coach to be so honored was coach Wiser’s good friend John Franco, who has coached at Tyrone, Altoona and Penn Cambria. Coach Franco led Tyrone three State Championship game appearances, winning the 1999 Class-AA Championship. Presenting their awards was another good friend of coach Wiser, recently retired Clearfield Coach Tim Janocko, who along with Indian Valley coach Tom Shearer, received the award in 2022.

Photo by Central PA Chapter Photographer Rob Irwin: Coach John Franco and coach Larry Wiser with Lifetime Achievement Awards, Central PA Chapter President Sam Phillips at the podium.

Coach Janocko retired as District Nine’s career wins leader with 307 and coach Wiser is second at 238. With coach Franco currently having 203 wins, there were a combined 748 wins in that little “circle” on the platform.

Three officials received Lifetime Achievement Awards also. Larry Hoover, Rick Martin and Dennis Gramling were named for their outstanding service officiating games and much more.

Coach Wiser is a member of both the Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches (PSFCA) and the Central Pennsylvania Football (CPFCA) Coaches Halls of Fame, in which he was inducted the same year (2011).  

Some highlights of his career include: Coach Wiser had 217 wins with the Bobcats, while they were in the Little 7-12/Keystone Shortway Athletic Conference (KSAC), the most of any coach in that Conference’s history, which dates back to 1951. His 233 wins with the Bobcats program, which dates back to 1927, are the most in program history.

Photo by Central PA Chapter Photographer Rob Irwin: Coach Janocko presenting Coach Wiser with his award, Stefan Wisniewski (Check out the Super Bowl Rings).

Coach Wiser’s Bobcat teams won nine Keystone Shortway Athletic Conference (KSAC) Championships: 1999, 2000, 2004 (Co-Champions), 2005 (Tri-Champions), 2011 (Small School Division), 2012 (Small School Division), 2013 (Small School Champions), 2014 (Small School Division), 2017 (Large School Division). During his tenure the Bobcats reached the District Nine Championship Game a number of times, winning four District Nine Championships: 1997 (Class-A), 2009 (Class-A), 2013 (Class-A) and 2017 (Class-AA). Clarion Area made the State Semifinals in 2013 (Class A) and also reached the Quarterfinals in 1997 (Class-A) and 2017 (Class-AA), losing to the eventual State Champion in both 1997 and 2013.

He was the head coach for the KSAC  in the 2017 Frank Varischetti All-Star Game (KSAC vs AML). Coach Wiser was the head coach for the victorious North Squad in the CPFCA Lezzer Lumber Classic 2014. In 2015, Coach Wiser was an Assistant Coach on the winning Pennsylvania Squad in the Big 33 Classic (verses Maryland) and the Head Coach of the winning West Squad in the PSFCA East/West All-Star Game (Eastern PA vs Western PA) in 2018.

And recently Coach Wiser was named as the Lezzer Lumber Classic North Squad’s Recruiting Coordinator. Hopefully Coach Wiser will continue in that position for a number of years.

He had this to say, “Gosh… There’s so many people to thank for my getting here today. I think of all the assistant coaches, the players, administrators and people in the community that allowed me to stay in one place long enough, to win enough games and be recognized here.

“As always, I assume this is an honor for all of Clarion, getting this today. It’s pretty special. I’ve got to attribute you (Dave) getting me involved in the National Football Foundation. I think we started back in 2008 or 2009, with Ryan Johnson being our first winner.

“Our kids have been represented well here, over the years… here today with another Ryan, Ryan Hummell. It is special seeing these kids get these scholarships and receive this recognition.

“This has been just an outstanding banquet…

“Obviously we all know my relationship with the Slike’s (Kevin “Fonzie,” Vance and other family members, who have handled equipment duties for decades) and how much I hold them in value for what they’ve done for me over the years and continue to do. I call Kevin my General Manager.

“To coach this long and have this kind of success I was blessed with a supportive wife.”

Photo by Lisa Gunning: Annie and Larry Wiser.

Coach Monica shared congratulations for Coach Wiser. “I’d just like to say congratulations to Larry for getting the Lifetime Achievement Award. He’s done a lot for the state of Pennsylvania High School Football along with the Clarion Community.”

The Central Pennsylvania Chapter schools who qualified for the 2022 PIAA Football Playoffs were recognized. Three of those schools were from the District Nine Football League, Central Clarion in Class-AA, and Union/A-C Valley and Port Alleghany in Class-A.

Others from the District Nine Football League to receive their program’s Scholar Athlete Award include: Brayden Kunselman – Brookville, Garrett Frantz – DuBois, Vernon Handley – Ridgway, Eli Rippey – St. Mary’s, Xander Brown – Coudersport and Drew Evans – Port Allegany. Also, Clearfield’s Eric Myers was their program’s honoree. Clearfield is in District Nine but doesn’t compete in the District Nine Football League.

Coach Eggleton had these fine comments, “It was a fantastic banquet today. I appreciate the National Football Foundation putting it on. I’m very proud of Ryan, a great culmination to his football career for us at Central Clarion. Just a great day overall for our program, the whole Central Clarion program. Jim Gunning, who was a player for me at Clarion-Limestone, was honored today as a Clarion University player.

“Getting to watch Coach Wiser receive the Lifetime Achievement Award. A great day for our program. We had almost our whole staff here, to see it all. It was a fantastic banquet. I’m proud of all three of those guys. I’m proud to be a part of their journey along the way.”

(Congratulations to Ryan, Jimmy, Tyler, Coach Wiser and all of those honored by the Central Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame in 2023!!!! And Congratulations to the Central Pennsylvania Chapter for another super banquet!!!! Thank you to all who contributed photos!!)