Undefeated football players set example off field

Coach Banas: “Our purpose is to create well-rounded, productive members of society.”
Posted on 10/19/2021
Following the deaths of 13 service members in Afghanistan, 13 QCHS football players each held an American flag when they ran on the field for their home-opening game.

By Gary Weckselblatt

Having an undefeated football team is a wonderful thing and something each member of the Quakertown Community High School football program deserves to take pride in. The personal growth of each young person’s character, however, may have outpaced their gridiron proficiency due to the teachings of Coach George Banas and his staff.

“The thing I prefaced from day one as a head coach was no matter the outcome of a game, we will always strive to do the right thing,” he said. “Our purpose is to create well-rounded, productive members of society. It’s not, ‘Look at me. What can I get out of this?’ It’s opening doors for others as you walk through the building, picking up trash that’s not yours.”

Panthers coaches give student-athletes opportunities to set examples and help unite the greater community on issues bigger than themselves. To wit:

  • After 13 U.S. service members were killed in Afghanistan in late August, Coach Banas had 13 players each carry an American flag in their honor at the Panthers’ home opener.

“I let the team know we needed 12 more flags and they were all in, the text messages were flying,” Coach Banas said. “They bought into it and they understand the message. They understood why we’re doing it. We’re paying respects to the members of our military who gave their lives for us.”

Senior captain and two-way lineman Anthony Schiller was one of the players to run onto the field with an American flag. “It gave me chills knowing I was representing one of them,” he said. “I felt it was important to do.”

  • During a team practice on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, assistant coaches Chris Deily and Jermey Walck recommended honoring first responders by having players carrying teammates on their backs around the track. Players didn’t need to be prodded.

"9/11 was a teachable moment,” Coach Banas said. “These kids weren’t even born. It’s important to honor the efforts of others.”

  • For the annual Fight Against Childhood Cancer Night game, often the most emotionally draining evening of the season, several players walked onto the field holding the hands of the young children in remission.

“For me, it puts everything in perspective,” said Freddie Retter, a senior captain and two-way lineman who held a youngster’s hand as they walked from the Panthers’ sideline to midfield for the coin toss. “It’s a privilege to go out there and play on Friday nights. I play for them because they’re unable to. And I know that’s the mindset of the team. It’s an awesome atmosphere.”

Anthony said it’s an event that brings the community together. “We’re all there playing for a cause,” he said. “It builds a stronger bond with everybody.”

  • When Quakertown held its Autumn Alive! Fall Festival last weekend, Coach Banas made certain his players were in the borough both for the early-morning setup and cleanup following the event.

“Coach gets us involved in these types of community activities,” Anthony said. “It’s about life values. Helping others is a great thing to do.”

Coach Banas said his team has signed up for two of the school’s most popular clubs, Best Buddies and Mini-THON.

Freddie said in addition to coaches, upperclassmen help shape the program. “The leaders on this team are responsible on and off the field and they make it a point to interact with the younger guys,” he said. “I know when I was younger I looked up to the older guys. You can tell by the way they act that they’ve been in the program, they’re mature and they help coach the younger players.”

He said while being undefeated is great, “it may not help me when I’m out there looking for a job. But working hard in the summer heat, the mental toughness and work ethic that we’re being taught, that’s going to make a difference.”

Gary Weckselblatt, QCSD Director of Communications, writes about the people and the programs that impact the Quakertown Community School District. He can be reached at 215-529-2028 or [email protected].

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