At the age of 5, Tanner Stengel played in his first ever football game for the South Parkland Trojans. Fifteen years later, he is still playing the same game he grew up to love.
Stengel is in his junior year for the Colonels and is a returning second team All-MAC linebacker. When Coach Trey Brown took over for the Colonels last year, Stengel was given the chance to prove himself. He finished the 2014 season as the league’s top tackler with 102 total tackles in ten games played.
At the age of 8, Stengel realized that he had a future in football. During a practice, one of his coaches, who weighed more than 300 pounds, was running toward him, and Stengel was able to tackle him to the ground.
Coaches stood there in shock, unable to register what he had just done. After practice, his coach approached his dad telling him that “although he might not be the biggest kid on the team, he has heart for the game, and that will take him places.”
Standing at 5 feet 11 inches and 190 pounds, Tanner still might not be the biggest guy out there, but he always prides himself on being the hardest worker.
“Tanner’s mobility allows him to make plays all over the field,” said senior safety Jared Powell. “I have never played with a linebacker as mobile as him. He allows me to not worry about the run so much; I can play the pass quicker knowing he’s there to make any run play.”
This is Stengel’s first season as captain, and he knows that it comes with a big responsibility.
“Nothing really changed, you just have to be vocal and outright with everything and just play to the best of your abilities so the younger guys look up to you.”
Leading the league in tackles is a major accomplishment, especially as a sophomore, but Stengel has his goals set high for this season.
“There’s always that dream of being an All–American.”
So far he is on pace to lead the league in tackles, which will help him in his journey toward achieving that dream.
However, there is more to life than just football. Stengel is a mechanical & electrical engineering major at Wilkes. Having two demanding majors is rough for a student athlete, but he has found that time management and being able to put in the extra hours really helps. Being able to maintain a high GPA while balancing it with athletics really shows who he is as a person.
“He can take your breath away with a stare, but touch your heart with his words,” said junior defender Josh Farrell.
Powell also praised Stengel for his ability to lead.
“As a captain, he leads us with not only his words but also by example. He is always working hard, and when we get down as a defense he is there to pick us up and make sure we keep a next-play mentality.”
Like many football players, Stengel dreams of one day playing the NFL, but he has a plan in case that dream doesn’t play out. He hopes to one day have his own engineering company. Unlike other companies out there, which focus on a certain aspect of engineering, he would like for his company to be able to complete a wide range of activities and do anything possible.
When he is not on the field or in the classroom, he can be found participating in one of his hobbies including longboarding, snowboarding or skim boarding.