Four area football players rose to All-State status Wednesday afternoon.
Souderton Area running back Jalen White, North Penn running back Khalani Eaton, and Pennridge linebacker Shane Hartzell all earned spots on the Class 6A All-State Team while Upper Dublin defensive back Micah Bootman notched a spot on the Class 5A squad.
All four seniors were instrumental to their team’s success this past fall.
White, a 6-foot-1, 175-pounder blessed with a rare blend of power, speed and quickness, helped work Souderton Area to its first ever District 1-6A title.
“To bring a district championship back to Souderton means everything in the world to me and everyone a part of this team,” White said of the crown. “Coming into this program as a freshman, the first two years until my junior year were definitely not the best for the football team. But to turn the program around – first, my junior year, going 8-3 and going to the playoffs, then this year going undefeated (7-0 through districts), beating the odds, being crowned (Suburban One League Continental Conference) Champs and district champs, it’s unreal.”
Hartzell (6-0, 220), selected All-State as a Defensive Athlete, was the catalyst for the Rams’ run to an SOL National title and trip to the District 1-6A Final against Souderton. Pennridge finished the season 7-1, with a thrilling come-from-behind victory over rival Quakertown on Thanksgiving Day.
“Just got to be grateful. We were in a position that a lot of kids weren’t able to be in,” Hartzell said of Pennridge’s run to the district final. “A lot of kids had their seasons taken from them and they won’t get that back.
“Put it into perspective, it was really special. It was something really special. With everything going on in the world now, being able to come together as a family, as a team and to do what we did, we all will remember it for the rest of our lives.”
Eaton was difficult to bring down. The Knights’ standout runner piled up multiple 200-plus yard performances in leading NP to a 4-1 finish in the shortened season.
Said Eaton (5-11, 210) of his running style: “Sometimes, I like the contact. I like how that feels sometimes.”
In more ways than one, Bootman (5-10, 175) was front and center when Upper Dublin seized the District 1-5A Championship. A leader of the defense on the field, Bootman was also asked by coach Bret Stover to hold the trophy and present it to his teammates.
“He’s the leader without a doubt,” Stover said of Bootman. “He’s our heart and our soul.
“It just shows my leadership role on this team and how I have an impact on the rest of the team,” Bootman said. “I try to preach that at practice and show them the right steps.”