LANCASTER >> Maxwell Club. All-state. Big 33. To name just a few.
Mark Pyles has been no stranger to awards and/or awards banquets in recent months. Producing a senior football season for the ages has a way of filling up your date book.
So it was hardly a startling development that Lebanon High's star quarterback and three-sport competitor found himself the recipient of yet another free meal and yet another prestigious honor on Tuesday.
This one, though, was different. This award wasn't just about Mark Pyles, the athlete, the guy who racked up 48 total touchdowns while leading Lebanon from an 0-10 laughingstock in 2012 to a thrilling turnaround and a district playoff berth this past season.
No, this one was the about Mark Pyles, the student-athlete. More specifically, the scholar-athlete.
Pyles added to his collection of trophies and plaques on Tuesday when he received the Lancaster-Lebanon League's A. Landis Brackbill Male Scholar-Athlete Award during a luncheon at the Eden Resort. He is just the second Lebanon High athlete to win the award in its 25-year history, joining 1998 grad and former University of Maryland football standout Todd Wike.
The female Brackbill honoree was Hempfield three-sport (field hockey, basketball, track and field) standout Sarah Helgeson.
"This is right at the top," Pyles said of the significance of the award to him personally. "I'm the second Lebanon player, student-athlete to win this, next to Todd Wike, and just hearing about him and knowing how great a player and person he was, it's definitely a great accomplishment of mine. It's held in high regard. This is amazing, I love it."
Headed to Bucknell in the fall to continue his football and academic careers, Pyles snared his latest award with a combination of gridiron greatness — as well as solid play on the basketball court and baseball diamond — and classroom excellence.
How excellent? Well, he boasts a weighted grade-point average of 4.7, is ranked No. 1 in the LHS Class of 2014 and will graduate as class valedictorian next week.
And just for good measure, he's as revered a team and classroom leader as Lebanon High has ever produced, as evidenced by the written testimonials provided by some of his teachers and coaches.
Which means, as was the case with his athletic achievements, Pyles didn't get by in the classroom on just natural talent alone.
"It doesn't just happen, that's for sure," said Pyles, who named accounting as his favorite classroom endeavor. "Ever since I was young, my parents instilled in me that you gotta do well in the classroom before you can perform on the field. I just set my mind to it that I was gonna be the best I could on the field and in the classroom."
Pyles, who will be one of Pennsylvania's quarterbacks for next month's Big 33 clash with Maryland, is undecided on an academic major as he prepares to move on to college. But no matter the area of study he chooses to focus on, he's already developed the time-management skills necessary to master it.
"It definitely takes a lot of work, with being a three-sport athlete," he said. "You don't have much free time. It takes dedication. I just had the mindset that I was gonna do it, and I achieved it."
To be eligible for the Brackbill Award, L-L student-athletes needed to maintain a GPA of at least 3.0 while participating in 75 percent of at least two PIAA sports during the school year.
The league committee that chose the winners factored in academics as 50 percent of their decisions, athletics as 40 percent, and leadership as 10 percent.
Joining Pyles among the five male finalists were Cedar Crest cross country, swimming and track and field standout Daniel Neiswender, Matthew Wright (Lampeter-Strasburg), Matthew Hess (Lancaster Mennonite) and Connor Sheehan (Solanco).
Joining Helgeson as female finalists were Annville-Cleona's Alex Siebecker (field hockey, basketball, track and field), Penn Manor's Greta Lindsley, Nicole Allen (Conestoga Valley) and Emily Mann (Manheim Township).
Other Lebanon County nominees were: Male – Christian Kreamer (Annville-Cleona), Phil Kline (Elco), Blayde Reich (Lebanon), Drew Gates (Lebanon Catholic) and Derek DiAngelis (Northern Lebanon). Female – Katie Gable (Cedar Crest), Sarah Chobanoff (Lebanon Catholic) and Jorie Mason (Northern Lebanon).