LEAVITTSBURG - When Peyton Aldridge was contacted by one his guidance counselor, Linda Nogales, about applying for the U.S. Army-Pro Football Hall of Fame Award, Aldridge obliged, but really didn't think anything of it.
"She brought it to me, and I just filled it out and got the recommendations," Aldridge said. "I really wasn't expecting much, but it's an honor to get the award."
Then in October, Aldridge received word that he was one of 10 finalists in the country to be in the running for the inaugural award. On Tuesday, in the gymnasium of LaBrae High School, in front of his fellow student body and teachers, an assembly was held to honor Aldridge. Speaking at the assembly was Major General Jefforey Smith of the United States Army, and representing the Pro Football Hall of Fame, former Cincinnati Bengals lineman Anthony Munoz.
Tribune Chronicle / Dana Sulonen
Peyton Aldridge, a junior at LaBrae High School, center, was named as one of 10 finalists for the U.S. Army-Pro Football Hall of Fame Award. Presenting him with his finalist plaque at an assembly on Tuesday are Major General Jefforey Smith (left) and NFL Hall of Famer Anthony Munoz.
"This is really, it's just a blessing to be given this award with all the other recipients," Aldridge said.
The U.S. Army-Pro Football Hall of Fame Award for Excellence was launched in January and recognizes student athletes from across the country for their achievements in sports, academics and for their work in the community. The award recognized the nation's top sophomore and junior high school athletes who excel academically and in community service. Aldridge is now one of 10 finalists that will participate in activities during the 2013 U.S. Army All-American Bowl, the nation's premiere high school football all-star game. The winner will be announced on Jan. 4.
Off the bat, Aldridge was more than qualified for the award. A three-sport letterman in football, basketball and baseball at LaBrae, Aldridge is a 4.0 student and also volunteers in his church's youth outreach program and teaches vacation bible school.
Munoz, who played in the NFL for 14 seasons talked about his time in the NFL, and what determination and commitment it took to compete at the highest level of football competition. However, one thing from one of Aldridge's recommendation letters stood out to Munoz, and its what he said is the meaning of this award.
"One of his recommendation letters said, 'Peyton goes the extra mile in everything he does.' What a great compliment that is," Munoz said. "He's not just satisfied just showing up at the time designated. That he goes the extra mile. That's also a part of being successful."
Though the award is directly linked to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Aldridge is actually being recognized for his accomplishments on the basketball court. Last season, Aldridge led the Vikings to a 22-1 record (20-0 in the regular season). He was named the Division III Northeast Inland District Player of the Year and was a first team All-Ohio selection. Aldridge averaged 15 points, 10 rebounds and 5.2 blocks per game last season.
Aldridge and the Vikings open the season on Nov. 30 at Hubbard.