By Giuliano Favorito
There’s one man in this school who’s been at Red Lion longer than anyone. That’s Mr. Sam Neff.
He graduated from Red Lion in 1967, when most of the current Red Lion student’s parents were not even born. Mr. Neff played three different sports; football, basketball, and baseball, and excelled in all of them. In basketball, he was an all county athlete, the first 1,000 point scorer at Red Lion, and received scholarship offers from several Division II colleges.
However, his real passion was football, where he played quarterback and led Red Lion to 30 consecutive wins. He received offers from the Universities of Maryland, Tennessee, Minnesota, Clemson and Delaware, to name only a few.
Initially, Neff committed to Maryland, but the coach who recruited him was leaving his coaching position, so Neff de-committed from Maryland and committed to Delaware. Neff didn’t initially choose Delaware because he thought their helmets weren’t the most appealing. He took the reigns of the team midway through his junior year, and never looked back.
Neff called every single one of his plays, unlike today where the plays come from the sideline. By his senior year, his offense averaged about 470 yards and about 40 points per game, not to mention a number one national ranking. At the end of the season, Neff and Delaware were crowned national champions.
He had phone calls from NFL teams but said that football wasn’t his life and he wanted to do other things. Now Mr. Neff has a big family and is in his 43rd year teaching. When asked if he plans on retiring anytime soon, he answered simply “I’m having too much fun.”
Health Teacher Mr. Matt Denish attended Red Lion in the early 2000s, ran track and field, cross country, and played basketball.
He excelled in all sports, bringing many championships to Red Lion. His cross country teams brought four county championships to the school and earned a spot in the state playoff.
In basketball, Mr. Dennish turned the heads of several division two schools who were recruiting him.
In track, he currently holds the 800-meter run record with a time of 1:54 and helped the 4x800 meter relay team grab the school record with a time of 7:53. Dennish said his times at states (like a 4:14 mile time) and desire to win are really what caught the eyes of Division I schools like Tennessee, Kentucky, Kansas, and East Carolina.
Ultimately, Mr. Dennish chose East Carolina on a scholarship for track and field because other schools didn’t have the Health and Phys. Ed. major he wanted to take.
East Carolina is where he ran alongside NFL running back Chris Johnson and broke the school’s mile record with a time of 4:08 and the schools distance melody record (combination of 4 distance events). He earned a spot on the All-Academic team that honored the best runners with a GPA of 3.5 or higher.
He attributes his success to sleeping right, eating right, working hard, and being coachable.
Biology Teacher Brad Lloyd went to Red Lion and is one of the school’s most decorated wrestlers of all-time.
He is a three time county champion, a three time district three finalist and his senior year placed third in the state, losing to the number one ranked wrestler in the nation.
What separated Lloyd? “Hating to lose,” Lloyd said. “Every morning I came to school, swam a half mile to a mile, went to practice, and then went home to lift weights or run and then repeat. I over-trained, but I had a goal.”
That work ethic didn’t go to waste as Lloyd earned a scholarship to division one Lock Haven University to wrestle. Remember the number one wrestler in the nation who beat Mr.Lloyd in high school? He went on to Penn State, and Mr. Lloyd got some revenge with a win against him.
Lloyd was a three time all-American and went to the NCAA tournament his freshman year and placed seventh. The following year, he placed third and by his senior year, Mr. Lloyd wrestled for the national championship and placed second in an overtime match. Now, Mr. Lloyd is a member of our science department.
JD Granger hasn’t spent his whole life studying chromosomes and cutting up frogs in his free time. No, once upon a time Mr.Granger played football. And he didn’t just play--he dominated.
Granger attended South Western High School and played linebacker for the Mustangs. His senior year, he helped his team reach a perfect 10-0 record and a spot in the district playoff (back then, only four teams could qualify compared to today’s sixteen).
This attracted the attention of several Division II coaches. Granger never thought he was on that playing level, until one day, he was sitting in class and was told to go to the office because the East Stroudsburg University coach wanted to see him.
Granger attended ESU on a football scholarship and fought his way into a special teams spot his freshmen year. In a game against the number one team in the nation, IUP, (one of Granger’s first ever college games) he picked up a blocked punt and returned it for a touchdown.
His sophomore year Granger started four games on defense and after that year he started every single game for the rest of his collegiate career. His senior year, he was voted co-captain by his teammates.
Granger graduated, and is now one of Red Lion’s biology teachers. He has been coaching football for the past thirteen years.
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