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West Hartford Students Named National Football Foundation Scholar-Athletes

Conard National Football Foundation Scholar-Athletes were suprised by foundation representatives Thursday morning. From left: John Quaglia, Jack Holik, Zack Cohen, Peter Simplicio, coach Matt Cersosimo, and Mark Snyder. Courtesy photo

A total of five students from West Hartford, representing both Conard and Hall High Schools, were notified last week of the honor.

Hall football players with their families, coach Frank Robinson, and members of the National Football Foundation Northern Chapter. Hall Football Friends Facebook page photo

By Ronni Newton

Five seniors from West Hartford, members of the Conard High School and Hall High School football teams, are among the scholar-athletes named as 2020 National Football Foundation Scholar-Athletes for the Northern Chapter.

Zach Cohen (left) and Peter Simplicio were named National Football Foundation Scholar-Athletes for 2020. Courtesy photo

Recipients are not notified in advance, and the students were surprised with the honor at their schools on March 12 and 13.

All five will be officially recognized during the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame banquet at the scheduled for May 17 at the Aqua Turf in Southington.

Conard head football coach Matt Cersosimo was also named Coach of the Year and will be honored at the banquet.

“We are so excited to announce the award for Peter Simplicio and Zack Cohen,” Cersosimo said following the surprise visit by the National Football Foundation representatives Thursday morning. “Both are outstanding representatives of their families, Conard High School, and our football program. We couldn’t be happier to have them as our 2020 National Football Foundation Scholar-Athletes.”

At Hall High School, Matt Keller, Pierce Newman, and Noe Ruelas were surprised with the honor by National Football Foundation representatives on Friday, March 13.

A post on the Hall High Football Friends page Friday reads: “Great role models for the Hall Football Program!!!”

Due to the closure of all West Hartford Public Schools after March 13 to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, further was information was not available.

Honorees will have their names listed at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, GA. 

Last year there were three recipients of the scholar-athlete award from West Hartford – which was unusual, and having five this year is unprecedented. The 2019 honorees were Hugh Wells and Nolan Tibball from Hall and Gabriel Suarez from Conard 

There was one West Hartford Public Schools recipient in 2018  – Jack Moore of Conard High School – and Colin Fitzsimonds of Hall High School was recognized as a National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete in 2017. Spencer Merkel of West Hartford, who attended Northwest Catholic, and his teammate Cooper Lorenz of Suffield, were named National Football Foundation Scholar-Athletes in 2018.

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