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Wisconsin Football Foundation announces 2019 Scholar-Athlete Recipients

05/06/2020, 12:15pm CDT

The Wisconsin Football Foundation (WFF) has announced its 2019 Scholar-Athlete recipients. The state's chapter of the National Football Foundation, the WFF recognizes the best of the best when it comes to outstanding students and outstanding football players.

To view a list of past recipients, please click here.

The 2019 Wisconsin Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete Team (full profiles below):

  • Dominic Backes, Sun Prairie
  • Davis Barthen, Menonomie
  • Henry Basala, Pacelli
  • William Brazgel, Lake Country Lutheran
  • Jebediah Frey, Waunakee
  • Cayden Milz, Black Hawk
  • Riley Nowakowski, Marquette University
  • Isaiah Place, Lancaster
  • Carson Richardson, Fall River/Rio
  • Dylan Schuster, Greendale
  • Brandon Wilde, Palmyra-Eagle

Dominic Backes, Sun Prairie

Dominic is an All Conference standout, team captain, and member of the Cardinal Leadership Team. He also participates in track and volunteers in the community. His community involvement includes youth football, Tuesdays in the Park with underprivileged children, Sunshine Place, Cards Closet, Memorial Day Run event, and Soup with Santa. Dominic is also active in DECA, being both a State Conference competitor and an International Conference competitor.

Administrator: What impresses me about Dominic is his sincere ambition and motivation to not only do his best, but also bring out the best in everyone around him. His positive outlook and leadership qualities are contagious among anyone he encounters.

Coach: Dominic has been instrumental in the success of our Cardinal Leadership Team. He is a leader among leaders. The amount of pride he takes in our community is second to none. He helped heal our community after an explosion shook our town a few years ago. He helped start a First Responder’s Night at our football game. Dom has impacted our program more than anyone to have come before him. His impact will be felt for years to come within our school & community. My hope is that I had as much an impact on him as he has had on our community and my family. He is second to none in leadership & character.

Dominic: Playing high school football has created friendships that will last a lifetime. Spending so much time towards the same goal with a group of guys really brings you together and creates a brotherhood that I don’t believe I would have been able to get from anything besides high school football. My life would be completely different without high school football. I would not have developed the leadership skills and teamwork abilities that I have gained through football that I will be able to use for the rest of my life.

Dominic plans to attend Valparaiso University and study Psychology/PreMed.

Davis Barthen, Menomonie

George H Chryst Memorial Award

Davis is the captain of Football, Basketball, & Baseball teams. Davis is active in the youth programs at Menomonie in all three sports. Davis is also a math & science tutor at school.

Administrator: Davis has exceptional leadership abilities who cares deeply about the world around him. Davis is an eager learner and though gifted, has quiet humility. He has developed a strong confidence within because of what he has accomplished rather than because of the recognition he has received.

Coach: Davis is a first class citizen and respected as a role model in our school. His outspoken stance toward following training rules and athletic code have inspired other athletes to rethink their views toward following the training rules. Davis’s work ethic is second to none. He has been All Conference, All Region, and HM All State but it is more than his talent that separates him from other gifted athletes. His off the field preparation with film study & weight room are incredible. He has been a shining light in our school. In my 37 years of coaching I would have to say that Davis is one of the classiest young men I have ever had the privilege of coaching.

Davis: I am very fortunate to have gone through the successful & life changing football program at Menomonie HS. Football has provided some of the greatest lessons I have encountered. I am forever thankful for the opportunity to play the sport with such great teammates, coaches, and the support of a great community.  The bonds I built with my boys throughout the course of our football careers is not comparable to other friendships. Many people think the trust and love for one another happens on Friday nights, but that is only where the trust is tested. The trust and companionship starts long before the opening kickoff. The accountability and attention to detail that we display for each other everyday in the offseason, practice, and in film study is where that bond is built. The next layer of trust is built through guys doing the right things, holding each other to a standard such as passing classes, watching film, and obeying code. The icing on top is the daily grind of practice and giving your all no matter what happened earlier in the day. That similar experience and sacrifice is what brought me so close to my teammates. I am honored to have been voted as captain by this group of guys that I look at with nothing but respect.

Davis plans to attend UW Madison and study Finance.

Henry Basala, Pacelli

All Pro Lineman Camp Award

Hank is involved in NHS, Leadership Team, Portage County Teen Leadership, Service Club, Prom Committee, Badger Boys State, Martin Machining Internship, Football & Basketball

Administrator: Hank is a team player, always willing to help out in the classroom or teammates in any way possible. He is also very humble and wants what is best for everyone involved.  

Coach: Hank has overcome a lot from a personal standpoint. He was selected Captain, and gave the team everything he had. Being Hank’s coach for the past 4 years has been truly remarkable, from where he came as a freshman, and watching him fight day after day through adversity and grow into the man he is today. Hank is the true epitome of our team motto,” Family”. He always put everyone else first while trying to make himself a better player and person as well.

Hank: When I started football I had no idea where things would go? Would I play, fit in, have fun, and help the team win? Little did I know I was going to make memories that I will treasure for the rest of my life. Football would not only give me another family and create lifelong bonds, it would also teach me life lessons that helped shape me into the young man I have become. Football also taught me that sometimes life is not fair. Not everything will go your way. During my sophomore year I was diagnosed with a difficult medical issue. I did not know if I was going to be able to go to college or even graduate from high school. I got out of shape. I knew things needed to change but I needed help. The support came from my family, friends, girlfriend, but most of the support came from my football teammates and coaches. They motivated me to get into the weight room and keep up my studies. I am now in the best shape of my life. It is safe to say that without football I don’t know where I would be today. Football truly changed my life and will continue to have a major impact. Football has motivated me to do better, be a better person, and change the world. I thought football was just going to be a game but it ended up being a life changing road to brotherhood. 

His coach mentioned that Hank was originally an OL/DL but in the process of his commitment to working out lost nearly 80 lbs and became a FB/LB.  For his last game as a senior Hank went back to the OL/DL because of a teammate's code violation, it was Hank’s idea.

Hank plans to attend Michigan Tech and study Engineering.

William Brazgel, Lake Country Lutheran

Will played football, basketball, and baseball. Will also leads a Bible Study, is a member of Student Council, NHS, and organized volunteer events. Will started a sports podcast for LCL as a student reporter. Will is also a tutor and assists with school Open Houses. Will was also a Team Captain.

Administrator: Will embodies what it means to be a student athlete and is an outstanding leader in our school community. Along with outstanding physical abilities, he is an extension of the coaching staff on the field. He is a thinker of the game and motivates his teammates to be their best. Will carries himself with humility, always works hard, and is an awesome role model for our community.

Coach: William has won the Team Leadership Award for 4 consecutive years. Even as a freshman starter on varsity, he carried himself in a dignified manner that upperclassmen chose to emulate. He also won the award twice in basketball & baseball. Will was also a 2 way All conference player.  Will never sees a challenge that he cannot overcome. Will has accomplished all of this while competing as a type 1 diabetic. His faith and desire to serve others around him help him to rise above any challenges.

Will: LCL football turned out to be greater than anything I imagined. Aside from incredible team success, I grew in my love for athletics, as a teammate, and as a Christian man. More important than my personal success was the success of our team. We went 38-3 over our last 3 years  bringing home a State Runner Up in 2017 and a State Championship in 2019. Winning the State Championship this past fall was the happiest day of my life. 

Will plans to attend Macalester College and study Sports Analytics.

Jebediah Frey, Waunakee

National Football Foundation Award

Jeb has been very active at Waunakee HS serving on the Football Leadership Council, Athletic Department Leadership Council, High School Student Council, and Fellowship of Christian Athletes Leadership Council, Ironman Weightlifting Club, and several community service projects.

Administrator: Jeb has had an exemplary academic record to go with his numerous contributions on leadership councils in our school. His leadership is grounded in caring for others, a passion for doing the right thing, respect for opponents,  and a deep sense of integrity. He has worked diligently to make all of the teams and school organizations he is associated with be the best they can be. It is not often that students possess the time management skills to successfully balance academic demands, co curricular activities, and service based activities. Jeb’s ability to strike this balance speaks highly of his maturity, intrinsic motivation, and character.

Coach: Jeb has been very intelligent, perceptive, and a fine athlete and leader. He has been a captain, All Conference Defensive Player of the Year, All Region, and 1st Team All State. He is a 4 year member of the Ironman Weight Club and a charter member of our Leadership Council. Because of his many achievements and the manner in which he carries himself, Jeb is a fine role model for younger students in our community.

Jeb: My football journey taught me that life will hit you with adversity. Life doesn’t always give us what we want, so we must take whatever is thrown at us and learn how to deal with it. We have to dust ourselves off, get up, and fight back. The lessons that I took away from my experience playing this great sport is what I value the most. Football has transformed me into the man that I am today. I began the sport as a child that had a dream of doing something great, and I left it as a man who worked for what he wanted  and did not wait for his aspirations to land on his lap. Through that transformation, football has given me a work ethic, a drive, and a passion that I can utilize in all walks of life going forward.

Jeb plans to go to UW-Madison and study Business/Finance.

Cayden Milz, Black Hawk

Cayden plays football, wrestling, and baseball. Cayden is in the NHS, Student Council, Band, and Choir. Cayden also has been involved in the community with coaching flag football, food pantry work, and FFA.

Administrator: Cayden has been a great asset to the Black Hawk community and provided great leadership within the school. Cayden always put forth a tremendous effort to improve and develop his skills. He willingly worked to assist those around him to improve their skills and push themselves. Cayden has proven his commitment and drive by his success he has had thus far in his many endeavors. Cayden was the Conference Defensive Player of the Year, 2 time 1st team LB and 1st Team All State winning back to back State Championships.

Coach: Cayden has been around Black Hawk football since he could walk. He has grown up around the practice fields, locker room, and weight room. He has served  as manager since the first grade. Cayden has committed himself to being the healthiest and strongest athlete he could become. The leadership and example set by Cayden played a tremendous part in getting other players to work at enhancing their physical abilities. This year we formed a new coop with Warren HS. Cayden’s leadership was instrumental in building a cohesive team from 2 different schools. As a captain his communication and work ethic helped set the tone for the new players to our program.

Cayden: Football is my family’s life. It has taught me so many important traits such as respect, determination, and ambition.The love of competition is something I will take with me wherever I go for the rest of my life. This upcoming season was like no other, we were no longer a stand alone team and had to coop with Warren, Il . I was not happy with this coop. I did not want to end our journey with a bunch of new kids that I did not know, who did not have success in their program. I feared that they would bring down our program’s success and that their devotion to the game would not match that of my classmates and I. Thankfully, I was wrong. The Warren kids came into our program with great and humble attitudes. We started out as strangers but are now brothers. We lifted weights together, went out to eat, and did so many other activities that built a strong bond. Winning the State Championship was a very satisfying feeling. I was so proud of my teammates and looking around seeing all of the smiles and hugging really brought a tear to my eye. Football has changed me and has made me who I am today.

Cayden plans to go to UW-Platteville and study Occupational Safety.

Riley Nowakowski, Marquette University

Wisconsin Representative for the National Football Foundation Team of Distinction

Riley plays football, basketball, and runs track. He was a team captain in football and is a school record holder in the 400 Meter Relay. Riley led a “Tackling Autism” football camp hosted by MUHS each fall for children challenged by autism, their siblings and their families.

Advisor, Teacher, & Coach: Riley has distinguished himself in many facets of the MUHS program from community service to leadership, from student organizations such as Spanish Honor Society to distinguishing himself as an elite athlete. He has earned these accolades while always maintaining the highest of academic and personal standards for himself. Riley is totally selfless and lives out the MUHS motto of being a”Christ-like man for others who came to serve and not be served.”  Riley is an excellent role model for young students.

Coach: In 30 years of coaching at Marquette University HS, I do not recall an individual quite like Riley. He is the perfect mix of incredible student and dynamic, amazing athlete. His combination of sportsmanship, work ethic, desire, attitude, effort, and production at multiple positions made everyone around him better!

Riley: Football has taught me many things, perseverance, commitment, and respect among them. The most important lesson football has taught me is that I cannot do everything by myself. Teamwork may not seem crucially important, but it is necessary in everyday life, among your friends, family and coworkers. Not much can be accomplished alone, but when a team of people is assembled they can do amazing things. Sometimes I have a bad game and my teammates have my back, sometimes they have a bad game and I have their back. No matter how much you want it  you cannot do it alone. Football is a team game, just like life is, you need others to help you get to where you want to go. 

Riley will go to the University of Wisconsin to study Engineering and play for the Badgers.

Isaiah Place, Lancaster

Isaiah is an All Conference Football and Baseball player.  He also is an active member of the L club and Vice President of the National Honor Society.  He serves as a  youth FB referee, youth basketball coach, and youth baseball/softball umpire. Isaiah also participates in forensics, school play, concert choir, chamber singers, cabaret, prom court, and homecoming court. Isaiah is also the student body’s rep on the School Board.

Counselor: Isaiah possesses a lot of natural leadership qualities. He is confident, articulate, and he has that hard to define presence to which people gravitate. When Isaiah attended Badger Boys State, he was selected as a Senator to represent the State of Wisconsin in Washington, D.C. In addition, he was selected by his peers to be on the Supreme Court. Even among leaders he stands out. 

Coach: Isaiah is one of the most deserving athletes I have had the honor of nominating since the program began in 1993. Isaiah is an excellent role model for younger student athletes. If we ever need something done for the team or community, no matter what the task, I contacted Isaiahfor his assistance and he would get it done and have it organized. 

Isaiah: HS football has helped shape me into the young man I am today. The game of football has taught me a lot of life lessons. One of the most important takeaways I learned was the importance of a strong work ethic, dedication, and the ability to overcome adversity. After my successful senior season I came to understand another important life lesson, “Never take anything for granted”. I had the privilege of playing for Lancaster which has amazing community support and Coach Hoch. The impact Coach Hoch has left on me has really developed me into the young man I am today. HS football truly meant the world to me.

Isaiah plans to attend Mt Mercy University in Cedar Rapids, Ia. and study Political Science and Government Relations.

Carson Richardson, Fall River/Rio

Carson participated in football, basketball, and track and field. He is a very active member in FBLA, NHS, Student Council, and FFA. 

Athletic Director & Dean of Students: Carson has represented himself with a high level of self control. He is emotionally intelligent and patient with others, He does not seek attention or drama, but instead helps build relationships. Teachers are impressed by the way he analyzes things and applies it to his learning in the classroom. Many of these academic characteristics carry over to his ability to be a leader on the football field.

Coach: Carson is a young man who truly represents what a leader should be. This was the first season of our coop between two rival schools, and I cannot explain with enough emphasis how much Carson meant to our team. He lived and breathed one unified team that needed each other because we were a brotherhood, a family.  Carson went to both communities to recruit athletes to play and also lifted weights at both schools over the summer to build relationships and when he came in he dragged kids with him. Carson volunteered with everything the team did this year to serve the community. He participated in the aluminum can drive, the Rio community parade, and most importantly the youth football program. To the little kids in both communities Carson was the star quarterback and they were so excited to work with him. I often ask our athletes about legacy, “How do you want to be remembered? What do you want your legacy to be?” Carson will be remembered by these three things: team first, someone you can count on, and as a phenomenal human being. 

Carson: The football season was a brand new start for almost everything. We had a brand new coop, a new coaching staff, and I was in a position I had never played before: quarterback. Football taught me how to triumph over adversity, how to lead in the toughest of times, and how to build a culture of mutual respect between athletes of two different schools. We created a winning culture, but that did not mean just winning games, that meant instilling discipline, integrity, a sense of belonging, and above all making everyone a better person. I worked hard to promote the cultural foundation so the players could become not just winners, but better members in their family and community. Football was the fire that forged me into a stronger individual. It has made me a better friend, family member, and contributor to my community. It was a journey well worth it.

Carson will attend UW Whitewater and study Business.

Dylan Schuster, Greendale

Dylan has been extremely active at Greendale HS. A member of NHS, Dylan also is involved with several student leadership groups. He has served as Percussion Section Leader on the Marching Band which performed at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade and in the 2020 Rose Bowl Parade. Dylan has also been very active in the Teens for Impact program, is a peer leader within the Sources of Strength School Climate and Wellness Team, and went to Badger Boys State last summer. He was also the Prom King & on the Homecoming Court.

Principal: I look at Dylan as a leader by example, the type of student that possesses all the traits we want in our students: top academics, involved in co curricular programs, willing to take risks, of high moral character, and an empathetic leader through active example and positive attitude. A great example of Dylan’s impact came this fall when a visiting head coach sought me out to share how impressed he was with #19 (Dylan) and the multiple instances of positive effort and extreme sportsmanship that he witnessed throughout the game. 

Coach: In my 19 years at Greendale HS, among the thousands of individuals with whom I have been associated with,  Dylan very well may be the most well rounded, grounded, and accomplished student athlete I have worked with. Dylan was our team captain and a 1st team All Conference performer. Dylan is continually an active seeker for self improvement, which includes building improved strategies with which he can positively impact those around him.

Dylan: My main focus was to set the best example for our younger players and demonstrate a great work ethic and attitude. I finished the year with multiple accolades including Team Captain, All Conference, and a Pick’nSave Athlete of the Week nomination. More important than those was the Pulse of the Panther Award, chosen by my teammates as a way of acknowledging me as the teammate who contributed most as a leader and companion. Much of what I learned in football can be applied to the rest of my life. I have taken my leadership qualities to other areas of my school. My refined work ethic helps me be at my best in all aspects of my life. I am forever thankful for the lessons and character that I’ve gained from the game and my experience as a Greendale Panther.

Dylan plans to attend St Norbert’s College and study Secondary Education.

Brandon Wilde, Palmyra-Eagle

Brandon has been involved in nearly every extra curricular offering at Palmyra Eagle HS. He has competed in cross country, football, basketball, baseball, and golf. He is an active member of the Band, NHS and Student Council.

Principal: Brandon is a very positive young man and brings enthusiasm and hard work to everything he does. Despite his very busy schedule Brandon meets all his challenges head on with a positive attitude and unmatched work ethic. Brandon has also accumulated over 200 hours of community service. He is a valuable asset to our school and it has been a pleasure to watch him grow into an upstanding young man.

Coach: Brandon has always been a leader. He leads by example with his outstanding work ethic in the weightroom and on the field. Brandon led the state in passing yards during the regular season for the past 2 years . He has been team captain, team MVP, and All Conference the last 2 years, leading Palmyra Eagle to back to back playoff appearances. Some of Brandon’s community service has involved running food drives, blood drives and volunteering at Chamber of Commerce events. Brandon also stepped up as a student leader when Palmyra Eagle explored dissolution of their school. Brandon attended every public hearing, encouraged student participation in events and meetings, and spoke eloquently at one of the meetings in support of denying dissolution.

Brandon:  I can honestly say there is something different and special about being part of a football team. This is especially true in a small town like the one I grew up in. Friday nights are for football and being part of a team that everyone in town is there to watch and cheer for is something I will never forget. Football has helped me grow into a better person through dedication and discipline, teamwork and camaraderie, and the physical and mental toughness.  We started the year with 25 players and by week 9 we were down to 15. We continued to persevere and somehow win, finishing the regular season at 7-2. It is hard to explain to someone who has never played football what it is like to be part of that team. Being one of the lucky ones who got to play football, has made me into the person I am today. It has made me mentally and physically tough, dedicated, resilient, and disciplined, but most of all it made me a better person and teammate.

Brandon plans to attend Carroll University and study Physical Therapy.

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