Panthers QB in select company

Will Steich is one of 55 students in Pennsylvania to be named a Mini Max High School Award winner for 2021.
Posted on 01/25/2022
Quakertown Community High School senior Will Steich holds his Mini Max award while standing next to Coach George Banas, holding a Quakertown football helmet signed by his star quarterback.By Gary Weckselblatt

The accolades continue rolling in for the Quakertown Community High School football team, following a historic season in which the Panthers finished 13-1, defeated archrival Pennridge on Thanksgiving Day, and had a record 19 players as all-league selections.

Quarterback Will Steich, who rewrote the Panthers offensive record book, has been named a Mini Max High School Award winner for the 2021 football season. He is one of 55 players selected from schools across Pennsylvania. Players were nominated by their coaches and evaluated based on football performance, academics, and community service. Only two other Bucks County students were chosen, Jeremy Goldrick of Central Bucks West and Makai Jackson of Harry S. Truman.

“This is a really prestigious award,” said George Banas, the Panthers’ head football coach since 2010. “It’s a reflection on the type of young man he has become and how his parents have raised and developed him. Hopefully, there’s some of how we mentored him as well.”

Of this year’s honorees, Maxwell Football Club President, Mark Dianno, said in a statement “This year’s group of Mini-Max winners was challenged by more than just their on-field opponents. They had to contend with circumstances of the pandemic impacting their families, communities, schools, teachers, academics, practices, coaches, and games; yet they consistently rose to meet those challenges and performed extraordinary feats on the fields, in their classrooms, and in their respective communities.”

The winner of the club’s Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey Player of the Year awards will be candidates for the 36th Jim Henry Award as the Outstanding Player in the region. The winner will be announced on February 2.

“Usually, that player plays professionally,” Coach Banas said. “To be in that company, to be in that same conversation, says a lot about Will.”

Will has done a lot right during his three years as the Panthers’ starting quarterback. He is first in passing yards (4,401), completions (308), passing touchdowns (49), and total touchdowns (60). This season he was extra special with 126 completions for 1,778 yards and 24 touchdowns, all Panther records. Receiver Zach Fondl caught 53 of those passes for 940 yards and 14 TDs.

“When you have a really good team around you, it’s easier to meet your individual goals,” Will said.

The Panthers 19 All-Suburban One League selections included offensive linemen Freddie Retter, Blake Griesemer, Vincent Pellegrini, Anthony Schiller, and Nick Fletcher, receiver Fondl and running backs Tyler Woodman and John Eatherton.

“We had a lot of fun winning week after week,” Will said. “We’d win and start preparing for the next game. We were 5-0, then 6-0, and knew this could be one of the better years in Panthers’ history. The team worked hard, starting in the offseason, and we turned it into something special.”

Since elementary school Will, Tyler and Zach have played youth football together and had their dads as coaches. With thousands of reps over the years, “It got to be easy, having that chemistry so you can spend more time working on things more complicated,” Will said.

He said he won’t forget the Friday nights at Alumni Field, where the stadium was always loud and packed. He particularly remembers Senior Night, in a rainstorm. “The weather didn’t keep them away,” he said. “There were so many people there. It didn’t thin out till we pulled away.”

Will has heard Coach Banas preach of the importance to serve the school and surrounding communities. He’s taken the message to heart, and is involved in the Best Buddies Club and Mini-THON. Outside of school, he volunteers for many of the Quakertown Alive! events, helping with the setup beforehand and clean-up afterward. “That’s something Coach Banas is really big on, having a strong community where everyone supports one another,” he said.

Coach George Banas and QB Will Steich share a hug after a football game.The quarterback and coach share a special bond. It’s evident when the coach tears up as he talks about his star QB. “He epitomizes what you want as a coach. It’s a relationship you look forward to. You only get that every five years, if you’re lucky. Will and I have quite a bond. He embodies what we preach as a program: Always do what’s right for the team, for the school, and for the community.”

“We’ve definitely built a strong relationship,” Will said. “We’ve had our fair share of arguments. But we sat down and had lots of talks about where we want this thing to go. There’s a lot of trust there.”

Asked about Will’s seemingly shy demeanor, Coach Banas said Will is “ultra-competitive. You may not see it in school, but when he’s on the field he’s deeply involved and gets on everybody. It could be his best pal or a brand new sophomore. He’s not afraid to get them on the same page, and he does it in the right way.”

Will has no doubt that he’ll play college football. He’s already visited Delaware Valley University and Ursinus College. He plans to visit Moravian and Widener, and perhaps one or two other schools, before making a decision. “I’m gonna play football somewhere, he said.

Coach Banas has no doubt. “He has that mindset to play at that level. I’m sure he’s prepared to play, 100 percent.”

Like his mom, a public school teacher, Will plans to major in education. His minor? Coaching. “It’s what I want to do, definitely,” he said.

“He’ll make us proud,” Coach Banas said.

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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