If anyone is proof that when one door closes another opens, it's Bruce Balliet.
About three years ago, Balliet was a student at the former Bishop Hafey High School, aspiring to a career as a Viking football player. But when the Hazleton diocesan school suddenly closed its doors, those plans went awry. That's when the doors opened at Marian High.
The son of Bruce and Marlene Balliet, Bruce, desiring a Catholic education, made Colt Country his new home, bringing with him size, talent and, most importantly, a desire to play football for Coach Stan Dakosty while pursuing a Division 1 scholarship.
All of that fell into place last week when Balliet signed a letter of intent to accept an academic and athletic agreement to attend St. Francis University, an NCAA Division I football program in Loretto, Pa., and part of the Northeast Conference, for which he'll receive a pact in excess of $100,000.
"I feel St. Francis is the perfect fit for me; I had a good feeling the first time I visited the campus that it would be my home for the next four years," said the Marian senior who received several other Division I, II, and III offers after completing a three-year varsity career with the Colts.
"My parents and Coach Dakosty helped me with the college reviews and the football recruiting process," he said. "St. Francis has everything that I was looking for in both the academic and football programs, and I really like the campus."
According to Balliet, "Coach Dakosty teaches and prepares his football players to be good student athletes, as well as good young men both on and off the field. He has helped me prepare for football and life challenges in many ways."
The fact that Dakosty has landed many players in collegiate circles during his 33-year career at Marian also factored into Balliet landing the scholarship. Balliet explained, "Coach has personal relationships at many colleges at each division level and a lot of college coaches visit Marian every year. Coach D would make the connections for me, but would then remind me that the classroom and football performance was in my hands to succeed. You will always hear him say 'football is a means to an end'. My opportunity at St. Francis proves that statement to be true. Football can be a means to an end if you work hard and want it to be. My dad always told me and still tells me today that '"If you do the required work, the desired results will come.'"
Dakosty said Balliet worked hard on and off the field to pursue his Division 1 scholarship goal. The coach noted, "Bruce was without a doubt the hardest worker in our program...we're very excited to see him rewarded with a Division 1 scholarship. Our program and school are very proud of his accomplishment. It's very satisfying to see him join a long list of others who have benefitted from the education and football experience they receive here."
According to St. Francis head coach Chris Villarrial, the Red Flash recruited Balliet as "an athlete." He said, "We are very excited Bruce decided to become a sudent ahlete at St. Francis and we look forward to having him be part of the Red Flash Football Team. At this point, we recruited him as a football athlete as we feel he can play on either side of the ball as a fullback or linebacker. We feel Bruce will be a student athlete that will represent St. Francis very well both on and off the field."
In his senior year, Balliet (6-1; 225 lbs) played fullback, scoring five TDs and rushing for 392 yards while also being a key blocker. On defense, Balliet was an outside linebacker/end, recording 81 tackles, six QB sacks, had three fumble recoveries, and forced three others.
He plans on majoring in forensic science and criminal justice.