By Ryan Fennell
Red Bank – When Red Bank Regional senior Garrett Sickels was 11-years old he was watching the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on television and told his parents that one day he would play in that game.
Last Friday morning, in front of his parents, Stanley and Donna, and his high school teammates and peers, Sickels was presented his All-American jersey that he will wear on January 5, 2013 as one of 45 high school football players representing the East in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl at the Alamo Dome in San Antonio, Texas.
Of the more than one million high school football players across the country, Sickels is one of only 90 high school athletes selected for this prestigious honor.
The U.S. Army All-American Bowl is the nation’s premier high school football game and will be televised live on NBC at 1 pm on January 5, 2013.
Sickels is the first athlete from Red Bank Regional to receive this honor and only the third football player from the Shore Conference to receive an invite to play in the game.
“Garrett embodies the characteristics and values of an Army-strong soldier and we are happy to have him on our team,” said U.S. Army Sergeant First Class Kevin Smith after presenting Sickels with his All-American jersey.
“I’d like to thank the U.S. Army for giving me this opportunity,” Sickels said. “I watched the game when I was 11-years old and I told my parents I’m going to be there one day and I did it. It’s a great honor and I’m very humbled to be here.”
Sickels then choked up when he went to thank his parents for all they’ve done for him and the support they have given him. Sickels addressed his football teammates and asked them to stand and be recognized.
“When Garrett, in a team sport, gets recognized as an individual the team is a big reason for that recognition,” Red Bank Regional head football coach Nick Giglio said. “When Garrett goes out and plays on January 5th, then he represents his teammates as well.
“Garrett and his family love Red Bank Regional and the RBR community,” he added. “There’s no finer young man to go out and represent Red Bank Regional than Garrett Sickels.”
“This is a really big honor for our school,” said Red Bank Regional Athletic Director Louis “Del” Dal Pra. “I am really proud of Garrett but not surprised he received this accolade.”
Following his junior season Sickels was ranked number 50 of the top 100 high school football players in the country and 2nd in the nation at his position by Rivals.com.
As a junior, Sickels had 76 tackles and 10 sacks and received over 20 offers from division one colleges. He ultimately decided to attend Penn State following his graduation in 2013, making a verbal commitment to the university last winter.