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Press photo by Don Herb Whitehall’s Jackson Buskirk took home the Lehigh Valley Chapter of the National Football Foundation scholar athlete award on Sunday night in Northampton. Copyright - DON HERB Press photo by Don Herb Whitehall’s Jackson Buskirk took home the Lehigh Valley Chapter of the National Football Foundation scholar athlete award on Sunday night in Northampton. Copyright - DON HERB

Whitehall’s Buskirk football scholar athlete winner

Monday, March 6, 2017 by Justin Carlucci jcarlucci@tnonline.com in Sports

Like father, like sons.

The Lehigh Valley Chapter of the National Football Foundation held its 56th annual Scholar Athlete Banquet on Sunday.

Hundreds of athletes, families, friends, and coaches packed the Northampton Community Center to officially culminate the 2016-17 season and find out which high school student would be awarded one of the season’s highest individual accolades.

One scholar athlete was chosen from 33 area high schools to become the 2017 scholar athlete award winner.

The academic and athletic resumes of every athlete in the building were loaded. Representing the Lehigh Valley Press area was.

At the end of the night, after a dinner reception and a ton of suspense, it was Whitehall’s Jackson Buskirk who received the 2017 Scholar Athlete award.

“I wasn’t expecting to win this award,” said Buskirk. “There are so many people out here that our deserving of it. To win this award is truly an honor. When I think if scholar athlete, I think of someone that gets it done on the field and in the classroom. It’s what I do; I can’t really change it up. It’s just the way things go.”

The 6-0 defensive back and wide receiver ranks 51st in his class of 360 students. He is s an honor roll student, and is a National Honor Society member and earned first-team all-state honors on defense.

Does the Buskirk name sound familiar?

Jackson’s brother Jake won the same award in 2015, and is currently continuing his education and is a member of the Lehigh University football team.

“Growing up, he was always one of the smaller guys on the field,” said Jake. “So, he had to work really, really hard in order to play and I think that installed the work ethic in him. He deserves it, he works harder than anyone I know.”

But the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, as they say.

Their father, Mark, was a Whitehall graduate and member of the 1986 District 11 championship team.

“I coached them and they never needed push. But, she deserves a ton of credit,” as Mark pointed to his wife, Patty. “We always had the expectation to do well when we grew up as kids. The discipline carried on.”

Jackson Buskirk will further his education at Moravian College next fall.

“The education is the most important thing in my eyes,” he said. “And I really like the private school education.”

CALL TO THE BULLPEN … Villanova’s former head football coach Andy Talley was supposed to be the guest speaker, but was ill and could not attend. In stepped Kutztown’s assistant coach Ross Pennypacker, who gave his speech in front of the packed community center on rather short notice.

BESIDES A BUSKIRK … The last Whitehall National Football Foundation Scholar Athlete award winner was in 1986.

LAST YEAR … The 2016 award winner was Saucon Valley’s Zach Thatcher.

FULL COURSE MEAL ... The Northampton Community Center put on quite a display of homestyle cooking, offering a full course meal which included ice cream for dessert.