Univest Featured Athletes (Wk 1-6-18)

SuburbanOneSports.com recognizes a male and female featured athlete each week. The awards, sponsored by Univest, are given to seniors of good character who are students in good standing that have made significant contributions to their teams. Selections are based on nominations received from coaches, athletic directors and administrators.

Univest’s SuburbanOneSports.com Featured Female Athlete

Morgan Small wanted absolutely nothing to do with the idea of playing goalkeeper. It seems like an odd thing for the Quakertown senior – a three-year starting goalkeeper thrice selected to an All-SOL team for her prowess in goal – to say. But a handful of years back, playing U10 soccer, her team needed a goalkeeper after the player they had in net wouldn’t do it anymore. So, Small stepped in, but it was not love at first save. “For about two years, I hated it,” she said. “I kind of got used to it after a while, and it turned out to be a good fit for me.” Small does not possess the prototypical size associated with the goalkeeping position. At 5-6, the senior knows there are some balls that she’ll have more trouble with than the taller players who populate goals across the SOL. Her lack of height did not take anything away from her ability to keep the ball out of he net. In fact, at least in Quakertown coach Mike Koch’s opinion, it made Small a better player.

“The kid’s a competitor,” Koch said. “When the lights are on and the game matters, that’s what she lives to play for. Her technique makes up for some of that athleticism or that size she doesn’t have. Her game awareness – a keeper with good game awareness always reduces the number of shots they face. They make themselves available as an outlet and give directions to players while their backs are turned to prevent things from turning into goal-scoring opportunities.”

While Small had the routine saves down pat, she was also a master of the spectacular. It seemed like at least once every other game the keeper would somehow get a hand on a ball that Koch thought was destined for the back of the net. This fall, Small and her teammates were part of a game that will likely live in Quakertown lore for a very long time. As the No. 17 seed in the District One playoff bracket, the Panthers had to travel to No. 1 Pennridge, a team that had beaten them 5-0 earlier in the season. “She had the team believing we were going to win,” Koch said of his senior keeper. “She found that right line for a goalkeeper, and it’s a fine line, where they were bought in and believing her. When you have that player leading, I think they played a little harder and with a little more belief.” Small posted a shutout against one of the top teams in all of District One.

Off the field, Small describes herself as a bit of a nerd and immerses herself in politics and political media coverage. It’s not surprising that the senior is part of Quakertown’s Model UN club and a member of the National Honor Society. She also used to play clarinet as part of Quakertown’s choir band. Small, who is planning to play in college and is currently weighing offers from two Division III programs, is hoping to pursue a career in journalism covering politics or as a political analyst. The senior chose colleges in Tufts and Clark that fit her needs academically.

To read Small’s complete profile, please click on the following link: http://www.suburbanonesports.com/featured-athletes/female/morgan-small-0075050

Univest’s SuburbanOneSports.com Featured Male Athlete

Dick Beck remembers it well. Justis Henley – then just a ninth grader – standing on the sidelines of North Penn football games, charting every defensive play for the coaches. “How many ninth graders who don’t play at North Penn – he’s playing ninth grade football – would stand on the sidelines during the games and help the coaches out,” the Knights’ coach said. “Nobody wants to do that, and he came in and volunteered and enjoyed doing that and was very helpful to us. Right then I knew this kid had what it took. I always knew he could play athletically. He always had great ball skills and was a hard worker and had a good frame and all.” An impact player since he stepped onto the field as a sophomore, Henley’s high school football career has been filled with highlight reel plays. Whether it was turning a short pass into an electrifying touchdown run or outdueling a defender for a 50-50 ball, the North Penn senior wide receiver – a three-year starter – created magic on the gridiron.

As a senior, Henley accounted for 21 touchdowns on offense, and he was equally effective on defense at safety, earning first team all-league honors. “He’s physical,” Beck said. “His ball skills going after the ball – he’s a great 50-50 guy, so with jump balls against taller receivers, he can compete against guys that are in the 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 range.” The Knights were 34-7 during Henley’s three years in the starting lineup with three consecutive conference titles and a District One 6A title as well as a trip to the state semifinals on the team’s resume last year. What sets Henley apart, according to Beck, is his work ethic. “He has a tremendous passion for playing football,” the Knights’ coach said. “He’s one of the guys that really pushed us to do more in the offseason when it came to 7-on-7s during the winter and spring. He likes competing, he loves the game.”

Henley will take his talents to the University of Delaware where he is penciled into play cornerback. “I kind of like being on the dark side on defense,” Henley said. “I like making plays on defense that kind of upset the offense. I like being the bad guy in the stadium – picking off the quarterback or making a big hit. I just enjoy it.” The football field is he only place where Henley might be considered a “bad guy.” And as impressive as Henley is on the gridiron, he is equally impressive – according to his coach – off the field. “He’s a great kid in the hallway for the younger kids to look up to,” Beck said. “He’s a kid who’s never in trouble, always going to class. He’s a very good student and has always done well in school. He’s not only a good student, he’s a hard working student. Al the things you’re looking for in a student-athlete.”

Henley doesn’t have a whole lot of spare time these days. He is volunteering his time to assist his former basketball coach - who underwent surgery - with the ninth grade team. He is also hoping to volunteer at the YMCA this winter as the steady quarterback for their youth league.

To read Henley’s complete profile, please click on the following link: http://www.suburbanonesports.com/featured-athletes/male/justis-henley-0075056