Kiilsgaard Named 2007 National High School Scholar-Athlete

Dallas, Nov 5 2007

View photos from the Awards Luncheon on December 4, 2007 in New York City

The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame (NFF) announced today the selection of five exceptional individuals as the best and the brightest in the country for their accomplishments as athletes, scholars and citizens, naming them as the NFF National High School Scholar-Athletes for 2007.

The 2007 NFF National High School Scholar-Athlete Honorees (currently freshmen in college) are:

  • Ryan Coffey - Northeast Region - Rhode Island Chapter - Burrillville High School - Harrisville, Rhode Island
  • Barton Dear - South Region - Touchdown Club of Houston Chapter – Klein Oak High School - Spring, Texas
  • Kellen Kiilsgaard - West Region - King County (Seattle, WA.) Chapter – Auburn High School – Auburn, Washington
  • Blake Lawrence - Midwest Region - Sunflower (Topeka, Kan.) Chapter – Shawnee Mission West High School – Overland Park, Kansas
  • Matthew Stotler - East Region - National Capital (Washington, D.C.) Chapter – Yorktown High School – Arlington, Virginia

The five scholar-athletes will be honored during the NFF’s Annual Awards Luncheon, presented by Sprinturf, on Tuesday, December 4, 2007, at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. First bestowed in 1991, the NFF National High School Scholar-Athlete Award has become one of the most competitive and sought after high school honors in the country. Criteria for the award include but are not limited to academic achievement, athletic accolades and community involvement.

“With the National High School Scholar-Athlete Awards, the NFF annually strives to honor the absolute finest from the gridiron at the high school level,” said NFF President & CEO Steven J. Hatchell. “The accomplishments of this year’s five nominees make us all proud, and their contributions both on and off the field set the standard for their peers to follow, and I thank Sprinturf for joining us in our efforts to promote what these individuals represent.”

With more than one million student-athletes playing high school football each year, the NFF chapter network, comprised of 120 chapters with 12,000 members, annually reviews the credentials of players from more than 4,800 high schools Each chapter analyzes countless local candidates for their academic achievement, athletic performance and exemplary leadership, and collectively the chapters annually award 2,500 deserving student-athletes with more than $800,000 in annual scholarships. From this group of 2,500, a national committee selects five individuals for the recognition as NFF National High School Scholar-Athletes.

Also at the NFF Annual Awards Luncheon, presented by Sprint, five exceptional individuals, selected for their extraordinary dedication and efforts in fulfilling the NFF’s mission, will be honored as the recipients of the 2007 NFF Chapter Leadership Awards. Later that evening, the NFF will hold its 2007 Annual Awards Dinner, celebrating the organization’s 60th Anniversary. The evening will be highlighted by the induction of 14 of college football’s greatest legends in to the College Football Hall of Fame. Additionally, several awards will be bestowed that evening, including the Gold Medal, the Distinguished American Award and more than $300,000 will be granted to the 15 recipients of the NFF’s highly prestigious National Scholar-Athlete Awards. For more information about the lunch or dinner, please call 800.486.1865 or visit

Ryan Coffey
Northeast Region
Burrillville High School - Harrisville, Rhode Island
Rhode Island Chapter

A standout in the classroom as well in the arena of athletics, Ryan Coffey truly exemplified the phrase “student-athlete” during his highly successful career at Burrillville High School.

Compiling an impressive 4.2 grade point average on a 4.0 scale, Ryan, ranked second in his class of 199. His work in the classroom earned him an AP Scholar Award, the Rensselaer Medal, the prestigious Bausch & Lomb Science Award and the Harvard Book Award. Vice president of his senior class, he was a member of the National Honor Society, the Student Technology Association and the Dead Poet’s Society. Additionally, Burrillville High School named him their Most Outstanding Student-Athlete of the Year and the school’s Most Outstanding Spanish and English Student.

On the gridiron, Ryan’s competitive sprit produced similar accolades to his classroom exploits. A 6-foot-2 and 260 pounds offensive tackle and defensive end was a First-Team All-District and First-Team All-State selection during his senior campaign. A member of Providence Journal All-State football team, he complied 49 solo tackles, six sacks, and two blocked kicks in 10 games his senior year.

A three-time All-League Academic Team member, The Providence Gridiron Club honored him as Team MVP. An all-round athlete, Coffey became a staple on Burrillville hockey team as a four-year starter and on the baseball team as a three-year starter, earning Gatorade Rookie of the Year Award on both squads and All-Division again in both sports his senior year. In his senior year, he led the baseball team to the state championship as the tournament’s MVP.

“Ryan tore his ACL in his junior year, and after sevens months of rehabilitation he was back on the field,” said Rhode Island Chapter President Emo DiNitto. “This speaks volumes about his determination and tenacity. Ryan is in the top five of all the Golden Dozen scholar-athletes that we have recognized in the past 20 years.”

Despite his busy schedule of class work and athletics, Ryan found time for additional extracurricular activities. As a senior he acted, sang and danced in the school’s annual Christmas Play. He served as a waiter for church dinners at the St. Joseph’s Church and volunteered for the Technology Student Association’s Senior Ball. Ryan also held several jobs during his high school career, including delivering newspapers, serving as a dishwasher and member of the wait staff at a local retirement center and working at a local Subway restaurant.

The energetic Coffey currently attends Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., and is playing football for the Cardinals.

Barton Dear
South Region
Klein Oak High School - Spring, Texas
Touchdown Club of Houston Chapter

Barton Dear symbolizes everything right about high school athletics. His reputation for sportsmanship, competitive energy, drive for academic excellence and a deep desire to give back to his school and his local community, created a record that simply defined him as the best in the South Region.

A leader in the classroom, Barton’s 5.39 grade point average on a 4.0 scale, ranked him fifth in a strong class of 501 students. He placed first in the State of Texas Math Team competition and he personally finished second in the District Science Competition and fourth in the District Calculator Competition. A National Merit Award Winner, Ryan placed third in the Woodmen of the World Life Award for Outstanding Proficiency in American History. He was a finalist in the District Academic Octathalon.

As a 5-foot-11 and 215-pound linebacker for the Klein Oak football team, Dear established himself as a leader in every way possible. A team captain and three-year varsity starter, Ryan earned Player of the Week honors on several occasions. He was named to the First Team All-District squad as a senior as well as a Semifinalist for the Kiwanis Sports Hero Award. Dear’s prowess on the gridiron extended to other sports, earning him All-District honors in Lacrosse and landing him accolades as the Interscholastic Hockey League Defensive Player of the Month on one occasion.

“Bart has always gone above and beyond our requirements and has displayed an excellent attitude,” stated Klein Oak head football coach David Smith. “He is truly dedicated to every challenge he takes on.”

Barton Dear’s accomplishments are not limited to athletics and academics. He also devotes a great deal of time to his community. He volunteered at The Tomball Abandoned Animal Rescue, the Habitat for Humanity, and helped handicapped children play baseball.

While currently tackling a challenging class workload at Notre Dame, Barton continues to stay competitive in the field of athletics. He participates in the intramural sports of tackle football, hockey, lacrosse and boxing.

Kellen Kiilsgaard
West Region
Auburn High School – Auburn, Washington
King County (Seattle, Wash.) Chapter

Rated by many experts as one of the top quarterback prospects in the nation during his career at Auburn High School, Kellen Kiilsgaards success extends far beyond the football field.

During his high school graduation commencement, Kellen claimed the Auburn Elite Faculty Achievement Award. This prestigious award requires two-thirds vote of the staff and is only given to a graduating senior who has brought honor to self and school, reaching beyond the bounds of community and the state. He ranked tenth in a class of 354 while compiling a 3.95 grade point average on a 4.0 scale. Kellen also received the Washington State University Regents Scholar Award.

As a two-way star for the Auburn High School football squad, Kiilsgaard was chosen to Prepstar’s All-American Team. During his senior campaign, the QB threw for 1,020 yards and 13 touchdowns and rushed 973 yards and another 23 touchdowns, leading his team to the state semifinals and a 12-1 record. At free safety, he notched 57 tackles and four interceptions. He also kicked 56 of 59 extra points while maintaining a 39.7 punt average.

The Associated Press named him All-State First-Team quarterback and All-State First-Team defensive back. The 6-foot-3 and 220 pound Kiilsgaard earned Player of the Year honors from The Seattle Post-Intelligencer and The Tacoma News Tribune. The News Tribune and the Auburn Reporter also choose him as the Male Athlete of the Year. He finished his remarkable career as his school’s all-time leader in almost every offensive category.

Kiilsgaard also excelled baseball, earning All-State First-Team honors and spots on The Seattle Times and The Tacoma New Tribune All-Area baseball squads. Kellen became the first high school athlete to hit a homerun at Mariners Safeco Stadium and was also selected to throw out the Ceremonial First Pitch at a Mariners game.

Excellence in the classroom and in athletics only tells part of Kiilsgaard’s story. Recently, he stepped into the realm of hero, swimming to rescue a 250-pound man and his 7 year-old daughter from choppy seas while vacationing in Maui, Hawaii. He received the Hometown Hero Award from the City of Auburn; was recognized by the Red Cross; and has been nominated for a Carnegie Medal for his gallant actions. He also mentors a “Little Brother” as part of Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America.

“The greatest Student-Athlete is the one that can excel in the classroom and set an example of behavior and citizenship for all students to follow,” says Auburn High School Principal Paul Harvey. “Kellen is that kind of student and he has not forgotten his responsibilities as a student and that he is part of a community that is much larger than he is, and he has handled all of it with poise and humility.”

Kellen is currently attending Stanford University on a full athletics scholarship while a member of the Cardinal football team. His father, Kjel, played linebacker at the University of Idaho in the early 70s. His grandfather, Carl, played in the NFL for the Chicago Cardinals and was the 61st pick in the 1950 NFL draft.

Blake Lawrence
Midwest Region
Shawnee Mission West High School – Overland Park, Kansas
Sunflower (Topeka, Kan.) Chapter

The top football player in the State of Kansas, a superlative student and a leader in his community, Blake Lawrence truly represents the best-of-the-best in the Midwest Region.

On the gridiron, Lawrence led his Shawnee Mission West squad to the Kansas State 6A title game as a senior. During his senior campaign, he played both safety and linebacker on the defensive side of the ball and quarterbacked the Vikings on offense. In 2006, he accumulated 60 tackles, a pair of sacks and three interceptions on defense while on offense he completed 68-of-131 passes for 1,329 yards and 15 touchdowns, while throwing just three interceptions. He also rushed for 483 yards on 71 carries and 15 touchdowns on the ground.

The 6-foot-2 and 220 pound Lawrence was named the State of Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year and earned All-State and All-Metro honors from The Kansas City Star. More than ten state publications selected him as the state’s defensive player of the year, including The Johnson County Sun, The Topeka Capital Journal, and The Wichita Eagle. Lawrence also earned spots on the PrepStar All-American squad and Max Emfinger’s All-American team.

An exceptional student, Blake had an impressive 4.35 grade point average on a 4.0 scale. He graduated in the top 10% of his class of more than 500 students and was a National Honor Society Member. He claimed a Kansas University State Scholar Award and was listed in Who’s Who Among American High School Students.

Passionate about helping others, Lawrence found time to give back to his school and his community. He served on his school’s Student Council Executive Board and was chairman of the local blood drive. Selected by his peers and administrators, he participated in the UniTown’s Cultural Awareness and Diversity program and worked as a Leadership 20/20 Member and Peer Presenter. Lawrence also volunteered as a basketball coach and referee with Special Olympics and as an event assistant for Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Greater Kansas City.

“We are obviously proud of what Blake has accomplished in high school, and we know that he will continue to succeed in college,” said Sunflower (Topeka, Kan.) Chapter President Gerry McGuire. “Blake truly defines what the phrase “scholar-athlete” is all about.”

Blake’s older brother, Tyler, is currently a member of the University of Kansas football team and earned recognition in high school by the Sunflower Chapter as a scholar-athlete in 2006.

Currenlty, Lawrence attends the University of Nebraska on an athletics scholarship, playing linebacker for the Cornhuskers and majoring in Business (Marketing/Advertising).

Matthew Stotler
East Region
Yorktown High School – Arlington, Virginia
National Capital Region Chapter

Yorktown High School’s Matt Stotler displayed a passion for excellence that has allowed him to succeed on the highest level in academics, athletics and as a leader in the community.

Valedictorian of a class of 355 students, Stotler maintained a 4.16 grade point average on a 4.0 scale. A member of the National Honor Society, he won his school’s Academic Excellence Award and claimed the Yorktown’s Sportsmanship and Excellence Award, a highly prestigious award and the highest honor that a Yorktown High School student can achieve. Sponsored by the school principal, the honor is based on nine character traits, all of which Stotler more than embodied.

A captain on the football team, Stotler played both tight end and defensive end, earning All-League, All-District, All-County honors in 2005 and 2006. His senior year, he amassed 12 sacks and 18.5 tackles for a loss. The 6-foot-5 and 215-pound Stotler also received the Virginia High School League Academic Excellence Award.

Stotler also earned three letters in wresting; eight in track and one in rifle. Captain of the wrestling team, he was the National District Champion at the 215-pound weight class, posting a 34-4 record with 30 pins in 2007. As a member of the Yorktown track team, Stotler was a Northern Region qualifier in the 110m hurdles, high jump and discus.

Extracurricular activities and community involvement also kept Stotler extremely busy. He participated as a member of the Madrigal singers, served on the school newspaper staff and volunteered 12-16 hours a month with Crosslink International assisting in maintaining inventory, stocks, and preparing medical supply donations for shipment to third world countries. An accomplished pianist, Stotler performed recitals at the Sunrise Retirement Home as well as running bingo night for the residents.

“Matt Stotler is a top student, a top athlete and a top human being,” said Yorktown High School Counselor Margaret Brennan. “He is intelligent, he works very hard, he’s highly disciplined and he possesses self awareness and self confidence. It is no exaggeration to say that Matt is respected by everyone, including peers and adults, in the Yorktown community.”

Stotler currently attends Columbia University and playing defensive end for the Lions.




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