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FAITHFUL FAN | High school football players honored for courage, inspiration

Kyle Roth, a recent graduate of Valle Catholic High School in Ste. Genevieve, was one of those players in the trenches, a lineman. Quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, even defensive backs get the glory.

But recognition came to him from the National Football Foundation’s St. Louis-Tom Lombardo chapter. He was honored for his courage and inspiration along with Gus Burrow of St. Francis Borgia High School.

Judd Naeger coached Roth for two years and taught him in class for two years. He nominated Roth for the scholarship, calling him a hard worker, leader and great person. “Kyle has a tremendous work ethic. He has gone above and beyond what has been asked of him by his teachers and coaches,” Naeger wrote.

Though Roth is a type 1 diabetic, he never took a second off from practice, and his dedication and commitment served as an example to younger players on what it takes to succeed. Hard work is his foundation, his coach stated.

Roth mentored youngsters who also have diabetes, showing them they can overcome it and excel. He refuses to make bad choices, Naeger wrote, and influences others to make the right choice as well. “Kyle is truly and inspiration to those in the community, and Valle is now a better place because of him.”

Roth said he’s honored that people recognize that his sports accomplishments as an athlete with diabetes is inspirational. A catcher on the baseball team, his senior season was wiped out.

Naeger stresses to the players that their Catholic faith comes first before football, Roth said. Following his faith and leading by that example played a key factor in his leadership and the team’s cohesiveness, he added.

A top-ranked, two-way lineman, he led the football team to a state title his senior year.

He agreed that linemen play in the shadows rather than the spotlight, but Valle’s group showed leadership and “did a great job of protecting the quarterback,” he said.

The championship was the football team’s 15th, with six titles since 2010. Valle is tied with Webb City for the most championships in high school football in the state. The Warriors lost just one game while averaging 47.4 points a game and giving up an average of just 10.7

Roth will attend Southeast Missouri State University in the fall and plans to study sports management.

Borgia’s Burrow also has diabetes and is considered an inspiration to his teammates and others. An undersized wide receiver and defensive back, he wasn’t a starter but nevertheless a part of his team’s success. Borgia Head Coach Dale Gildehaus cited his contributions and noted that he worked hard in every practice to help the team become better. Borgia just missed the state quarterfinals, losing to Roosevelt 48-43 in the district title game and concluding a 9-3 season.

Despite not being a starter for four years, Burrow never was disenchanted, Gildehaus said. Near the end of the season he caught his first touchdown pass, and the joy spread throughout the team, one highlight of the coach’s long career. Burrow showed respect to his teammates and coaches and showed that his faith is important to him, leading prayers and more, Gildehaus added. “The good Lord did a good thing when he put him on the earth,” he said.

The foundation also honored its 2020 High School Scholar-Athletes. Included were several high school football players from Catholic schools: Luke Parent and Dalton Bingman of St. Louis Priory High School, Timothy Muxo of St. Mary’s High School and Luke Schuermann of St. Louis University High School.

Dave Haddox, assistant coach at St. Francis Borgia, received the John Kadlec Assistant Coach Award and De Smet Jesuit High School and Roosevelt High School received the Top Program Award.

The National Football Foundation provides scholarships and promotes the game of football on the amateur level, recognizing courage, sportsmanship and physical fitness. Roth and Burrow stand for those ideals and are outstanding representatives of their teams, schools and community.

Kenny is a staff writer for the Review and a member of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Oakville.

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