For the past two-and-a-half years, LaBrae’s Peyton Aldridge has excelled on the football field, basketball court and baseball diamond.
But on Tuesday, the junior had to tackle a more daunting task. Public speaking.
“It’s a little nerve-wracking,” he said after addressing the LaBrae student body in the school’s gymnasium.
He was the center of attention receiving a nomination for the inaugural U.S. Army-Pro Football Hall of Fame Award for Excellence. He was one of 10 finalists for the recognition that honors high school student-athletes for achievements in sports, academics and dedication to the community for various service projects.
He is a volunteer at the Second Harvest Food Bank.
“It’s about the whole, total person,” said former Cincinnati Bengals offensive lineman and Hall of Famer Anthony Munoz. “It demands excellence on and off the field. Preparation, discipline and dedication are the keys.”
Munoz, along with Major General Jefforey Smith, presented Aldridge with a plaque.
“It’s really cool,” Aldridige said. “It’s just a blessing that I have been given this award with the others. I really wasn’t expecting much, but it was an honor to get the award.”
Linda Nogales, a guidance counselor at LaBrae, encouraged Aldridge to apply. He found out he was a finalist in October and will go to San Antonio in January where the 13th annual Army All-American Bowl is played and the final winner of the Award for Excellence will be announced.
Aldridge threw for 1,512 yards, completing 45-percent of his passes, with 13 touchdowns this past season for the Vikings. Last year, he was a first-team All-Ohio selection in Division III after leading the basketball team to an undefeated regular season and a second-consecutive All-American Conference title.
“It’s different conditioning,” he said of the transition from football to basketball. “It’s nice getting into basketball season now and I’m ready to go.”
Munoz talked about the seasonal transitions, too.
“For me, preparation was just as important from January to July,” he said. “In weight lifting, in the running in the technique and the studying of trying to get better for the upcoming season.
“We need to have passion. I love the game of football. I love going to work everyday. I loved practicing because I knew every rep I took was going to make me better for Sunday. It’s important to be diligent to accomplish tasks.”
In 1998, Munoz was enshrined in the Hall of Fame. He was an 11-time Pro Bowl selection with the Bengals and the Ontario, Calif. native now makes his home in Cincinnati.
“Having the opportunity to wear this coat and wear this ring is humbling,” he said. “I love the drive to Canton every August for induction weekend. I still pinch myself and make sure I bring my camera to get pictures with Gale Sayers, Deacon Jones and Bart Starr.”
Just like Paul Warfield at Warren Harding High School, Munoz was honored with an Allstate Hometown Hall of Fame plaque at his alma mater, Chaffey High.
Aldridge has received basketball scholarship offers from Toledo, Ohio, Kent State, Akron, Youngstown State, Cleveland State, Winthrop, Davidson and Miami of Ohio.