VACAVILLE — As all-Monticello Empire League first team center for the Vacaville High football squad, it all started with Chris Lai for the Bulldogs this fall.
Add a grade point average hovering just north of 4.0 along with extensive leadership skills and it’s not hard to see why the senior standout was selected as the lineman winner for Solano County’s National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame Scholar Athlete Award on Monday.
Winner among backs was Benicia quarterback Ryan Bohnet, the Solano County Athletic Conference’s Offensive Player of the Year.
Lai, who started on Vacaville’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division II title team in 2011, helped the MEL champion Bulldogs average 36.8 points and 423.3 yards per game on offense this season, according to Maxpreps.com.
“He’s probably the most talented kid at that position I’ve had the honor to coach since I’ve been here,” Vacaville coach Mike Papadopoulos said. “His body of work as a teenager is quite amazing. He fills all the components of all the things a model kid would have to represent our school.”
According to Papadopoulos, Lai has signed a letter of acceptance to attend the Ivy League’s University of Pennsylvania, for whom he will wrestle.
With Bohnet calling the signals, the Panthers averaged 28.3 points and 363.3 yards per game. He completed 206 of 355 passes for 2,845 yards and 26 touchdowns.
Bohnet, a standout pitcher for the Panthers baseball team, has yet to decide where he’ll go to school.
Both Vacaville and Benicia reached the SJS football quarterfinals this fall, the former in Division II, the latter in Division III.
Also nominated for Scholar Athlete Awards were Armijo’s Toeta Elise and Damian Simpson, Fairfield’s Robert Jensen and Vernon Brooks III, Rodriguez’s Justin Allen and Hashim Boyd, Vanden’s Tyler Corsi, Vacaville’s Tyler Cummins, Dixon’s Nick Bonovich and Josh Watkins, and Benicia’s Greg Bunch.
Award winners will be honored at a banquet at the Airport Hilton in Burlingame on Feb. 21.
Reach Paul Farmer at 425-4646, ext. 264, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pfarmerdr.