POTTSVILLE - As he walked the halls of North Schuylkill High School six years ago, Eddie Pavalko had seen pictures of and had read stories about a couple of athletes who had great success on the playing field.
The names of Gino Capone, Terry Rakowsky and John Rosella, former Spartans who were good enough to be named Schuylkill County's Outstanding Scholar Athlete in the past, kept popping up.
On Sunday night, at Pine View Acres, the 50th annual dinner sponsored by the Schuylkill Chapter No. 25 of the of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame, presented Pavalko, an outstanding fullback, defensive end and linebacker for Coach Rick Geist's Spartans, with the coveted award.
Pavalko was a big part of the Spartans 11-1 record this past season as he carried the ball 122 times for 1,094 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also caught three passes for 105 yards and two of them were for touchdowns.
The event not only honored 14 Scholar Athletes from Schuylkill County and included Panther Valley from Carbon County, Master of Ceremonies Larry Palko mentioned numerous highlights that were included in celebrating the 50th year.
Academic work, citizenship and school leadership are all qualities that the award winner must possess.
Pavalko, the son of Ed and Kerri Ann Pavalko of Girardville, ranks in the top 10 percent of his class and will continue his education and football career next fall at Colgate University.
The North Schuylkill senior was the recipient of two $1,000 scholarships (one from the Schuylkill Chapter and the other from th James J. and Mary Edith Rhoades Charitable Foundation, which was presented by committee member Tim Demko, standing in for the late senator's son James, who was in Texas cheering on his brother Michael, who is an assistant coach at Virginia Commonwealth University, at the NCAA Mens Championships.
Pavalko also received a trophy and autographed football, along with a plaque that was also given to all of the Scholar-Athlete representatives from the other schools.
All of the Scholar-Athletes also received a blue blazer with the Schuylkill blazer with the Schuylkill Chapter pocket patch, a framed scroll, a Hall of Fame cap, $100, a 21x30 photo, an 8x10 group shot and a DVD of the banquet, filmed by committee member Terry Case.
Local Scholar-Athletes honored were Dominick Richards of Marian, who is headed for James Madison in the fall; John Owens of Panther Valley, who will further his education at Drexel University; and Carl Wittig of Tamaqua, who will attend the University of Pennsylvania.
Others honored were Matthew Lascala of Blue Mountain, Jordan Mroczka of Mahanoy Area, Austin Schultz of Minersville, Thomas Leganza of Nativity, Adam Soltys of Pine Grove, Martin Melochick III of Pottsville, Roy Bensinger of Schuylkill Haven and Adam Macker of Shenandoah Valley, John Slater III of Tri-Valley and Todd Schorr of Williams Valley.
Ron Dilatush, Director of Membership from the National Foundation, was on hand and presented David Holley, president of the Schuylkill Chapter, what he called a "game ball" for his continued success of running the local group.
Tri-Valley Principal Charles W. Hall gave the annual "Educator's View of a Scholar Athlete".
Maura Gownley, a student at North Schuylkill sang the National Anthem and God Bless America.
The Foundation also recognized Joe Plasko of THE TIMES NEWS, who passed away recently, for all of the outstanding coverage he has given them over the years with his numerous stories and photos of previioys banquets.