The Wilkes University Football team held its annual banquet on March 14 in the Student Union Ballroom.
Junior middle linebacker Tanner Stengel woke up that morning not having any idea that he would be stealing the spotlight.
During the banquet, Tanner was named Defensive MVP and Special Teams MVP. This means he never comes off the field and he never takes a play off.
Stengel is from Parkland High School, a team that has won the last four district titles. When Tanner was a senior, he led his team to the first title of the era, and the team has won ever since.
“It’s a big school, where the mentality was if you weren’t playing well the next man would step into your position,” Stengel said. “So I always had to play to my highest potential to keep my spot.”
This has shaped him into the competitor that his teammates and coaches know him as today. When Tanner was a freshman at Wilkes, he was placed on the JV team: This did not sit well with him. He came back his sophomore season bigger, faster and stronger than ever. He did not start the first game, but this was not a problem: He still started the nextnine and finished the season leading the Middle Atlantic Conference in tackles.
This was Stengel’s coming out party.
In 2015, during his junior campaign, he accumulated 129 tackles which led the conference again and was fourth most in all of Division III. 70 of those tackles were solo, which ranked highest in the MAC and sixth in all of Division III. On top of those impressive numbers, Stengel racked up 4.5 sacks and 15 tackles for loss. However, he was sold short in MAC honor, receiving second team all-conference rather than first team.
“He also appears to have a grasp on the notion that there are no shortcuts to success and that attention to detail is critical in his preparation for tasks at hand. As his Position Coach, I can state with certainty that even in defeat, he consistently gives maximum effort and has a ‘Never Say Die’ attitude,” said Coach Jefferson.
With one season left of eligibility, Stengel is not done. He set pretty clear goals for himself and his team. Some of his personal goals include leading the conference for the third time and cracking the All-American list for the first time in his career.
As for his team, he hopes to be the best team in the conference and bring home the championship for his brothers, coaches and the Wilkes University campus. There have been a bunch of doubters, but they just add fuel to the fire.
Head Coach Trey Brown just wants Stengel to continue what he’s been doing which is being a leader to his teammates. “I think the leadership piece will always be the big one for me. Anyone can lead if they possess that ability, but it’s obviously easier to lead if you perform at a consistent level,” Brown said.