Local chapter of National Football Foundation celebrates football, academics, and community service
VANCOUVER — The guest speaker turned his attention to the scholar-athletes on stage, dressed to the nines in tuxedos.
He challenged them to be great in the future. Do not settle for average.
Pretty much, he said, just keep doing what you are doing.
After all, the scholar-athletes on stage have been doing great — in sports, in school, and in their communities.
The 28th annual Scholar-Athlete Awards Banquet put on by the Clark County chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame was held Wednesday night at Hudson’s Bay High School.
Tai Tumanuvao of Camas and Brevan Bea of Washougal were the first-place winners among the 32 nominees representing high school football programs from throughout the region.
The nominees were selected by their coaches for their play on the field, their excellence in the classroom, and their service to the community.
The banquet featured the funny musings — and that serious challenge — from guest speaker Bruce Barnum, the head coach at Portland State. He also is a Columbia River graduate and the father of two standout athletes at Skyview High School. In other words, a Vancouver guy, through and through.
The board of directors of the foundation also honored the head coach of the year, the assistant coach of the year, as well as other special awards.
Dave Hajek of Washougal and Mike Peck shared the Gary Boggs Award for top head coach. Both led their programs to state for the first time since the 1990s.
Justen Wochnick of Camas earned the John Hadley Award for top assistant coach. Camas head coach Jon Eagle presented Wochnick with the award. The Papermakers won the state title in 2019.
Camas players Blake Asciutto, Jake Blair, and Kolby Broadbent were recognized with the Mark Rego Outstandings Contributions to Amateur Football Award.
Asciutto went 6-0 as the starting quarterback after Blair went 8-0 before a season-ending injury. Together, they helped push each other to perfection.
Broadbent earned state-wide recognition when he consoled opposing players as Camas was about to wrap up a win in the semifinals.
“Congratulations, Camas, on your state title, and for reminding the football community that while winning is important, it is not the only thing that matters,” the master of ceremonies, Craig Birnbach, read to the crowd of close to 300.
Birnbach, who used to work full-time in television sports in the Portland-Vancouver market and now works for Evergreen Public Schools, earned rave reviews from the crowd. Birnbach was a last-minute substitution for Carl Click, a former TV broadcaster who also made Vancouver his home before retiring to Bend, Ore. Snowstorms in Central Oregon made travel unsafe.
The Washington School for the Deaf won the sportsmanship award presented by the Evergreen Football Officials Association.
And Rey Reynolds of the Vancouver Police Department was honored with the Distinguished American Award, just moments after he sang the national anthem. Reynolds has been performing his unique version of the Star-Spangled Banner at Clark County sporting events for decades now.
All 32 nominees had short biographies read, detailing their achievements on and off the field.
In the end, seven earned scholarships.
Bea of Washougal won first place for the “backs” also known as the skill-position players. He earned a $3,500 scholarship.
His bio read, in part: “Simply the best defensive player in all of Class 2A Washington,” according to Cascadia Preps. Bea also had more than 1,000 yards receiving, helping the Panthers win a state playoff game for the first time since 1974. He also volunteers for several organizations to help provide food for those in need in his community.
Tumanuvao earned the top prize for linemen, also a $3,500 scholarship. His bio read, in part: The anchor of perhaps the best offensive line in Southwest Washington history, Tai helped the Papermakers to a 14-04 record and a Class 4A state championship. He is a 4.0 student which includes several advanced placement courses, plus he is a volunteer at school, through the Boys Scouts of America, and his church.
Peyton Brammer of Hockinson (backs) and Maxson Muffett of La Center (line) were second-place finishers for $2,500 each.
Tommy Liston of Washougal (line) took third for $1,500.
Mason Wheeler of Skyview and Hunter Abrams of Ridgefield (backs) tied for third and shared the $1,500 prize.