Fidelak, Gibson, Heard selected for NFF scholarships

By DOUG IRELAND, Journal Sports

The brightest night of the postseason for nine top performers from last fall’s high school season is Thursday night when the annual National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete Awards Banquet takes place at East Ridge Country Club in Shreveport.

Today’s featured S.M McNaughton Chapter North Louisiana NFF Scholar-Athletes are St. Mary’s Graeme Fidelak, Luke Gibson of Mangham, and Connor Heard from Minden.

3-23 NFF Graeme FidelakGRAEME FIDELAK, St. Mary’s High School

The Swiss Army Knife for St. Mary’s, Fidelak played receiver, running back, quarterback, cornerback and safety for coach Aaron York’s Tigers, who went 4-1 to open the season against all higher-classification opponents, and finished 8-3.

Fidelak carries a 3.93 grade point average and posted a 26 score on the ACT. He has been active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Beta Club and Future Business Leaders of America.

An All-State shortstop last spring on the SMHS baseball team, Fidelak made the 2021 Coaches All-State Class A football team and was honorable mention on the LSWA All-State team. He played in the I-20 Bowl All-Star Game and was a two-way first-team all-district selection.

3-23 NFF Luke GIbsonLUKE GIBSON, Mangham High School

Ranked first in his graduating class, Gibson was an all-district center for Mangham whose academic accomplishments are abundant.

He has a perfect 4.0 GPA and posted a lofty 33 on the ACT. Gibson was selected as the Parish Student of the Year, won Academic All-State honors, and was Regional Literary Rally champion in world geography. He is president of the school’s National Honor Society, the Spanish National Honor Society, and the Beta Club.

Gibson has earned a presidential scholarship to attend Louisiana Tech.

3-23 NFF Connor HeardCONNOR HEARD, Minden High School

A center and left guard on the Crimson Tide football team, Heard is a two-time All-District 1-4A lineman and a Composite Academic All-State selection.

Heard owns a perfect 4.0 GPA and ranks second in his class of 168. He posted a sky-high 34 on the ACT.

He is the Webster Parish and Minden High Student of the Year, a National Merit Scholarship Commended Scholar, and has earned his school’s Student of the Year designation in English I and III, College Algebra, Psychology, Physical Science, and Biology.

Heard is on the Minden Student Council, the Minden City Council Youth Advisory Committee, and is a Joe Leblance Food Pantry Volunteer. He was a delegate to Louisiana Boys State last summer. He has a presidential scholarship to attend Louisiana Tech.

Other NFF scholar-athletes are Caleb Aillet of Byrd, West Monroe’s Tag Banks, Tonzaiha Bland of Logansport, Benton’s R.J. Moore and Jed Worthey III of Cedar Creek.

Each will receive a $500 scholarship award for their college of choice.

Evan Howe of North DeSoto is the first recipient of the KTBS/Johnny’s Pizza Bob Griffin Scholarship, named in tribute of the iconic local TV sportscaster who covered area high school football and other sports for over a half-century. Griffin was also on the local NFF chapter’s board of directors.

Head football coaches around north Louisiana nominated senior players who carry at least a 3.2 cumulative grade point average, have earned all-district honors and are involved in extracurricular activities.

The event hosted by the NFF’s S.M. McNaughton Chapter of North Louisiana begins with a social hour at 6 at East Ridge Country Club in Shreveport. Tickets ($40 individual, $320 for a table of eight) are available by calling McNaughton Chapter secretary Toni Goodin at 318-347-4453.