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Altoona’s Port enjoys memorable day

Wednesday was a day Adam Port will remember for a long time.

The Altoona Area High School senior signed a national letter of intent to play college football at Lafayette College and then received the Joe F. Cohen Blanket Award as the Mountain Lions’ most valuable football player during a program in the AAHS auditorium.

“Today, it’s awesome,” beamed Port, who was surrounded by family and friends. “To put in all the hard work … in the classroom, on the field, and to be able to sign.

“As far as the blanket, it’s really a team effort,” he continued. “The fact I got recognized is great but we had a neat team. It’s a tremendous honor, though. It’s special, and I appreciate it.”

Port recently had ACL surgery following a knee injury in wrestling, so he’s getting around with crutches, but it didn’t seem to hinder him as he talked and posed for pictures.

“Playing in Altoona is a special experience,” said Port, who plans to study engineering at Lafayette College. “Win or lose, being able to play with my best friends in one of the most-storied programs in high school football was an amazing feeling. I’ll cherish it forever.”

Port said he also considered Lehigh and Colgate.

“I felt the most at home at Lafayette,” he said. “I think it gives me the best chance to succeed in life, and it seemed to be a pretty simple choice.”

The Cohen Blanket is one of the oldest high school awards in the country — this is the 93rd year. It was started by Altoona businessman Joe F. Cohen.

Joel Cohen, Joe’s son, continued the tradition and now Brian Cohen, a State College businessman, makes the presentation annually. In presenting the award to Port, Brian Cohen noted: “My grandfather created the blanket in 1926 to recognize the top senior player who demonstrated the highest level of integrity, leadership and success on the field, in the classroom and in the community.”

AAHS first-year football head coach Vince Nedimyer Jr. said Port “was a pretty easy choice.”

“He was one of our hardest workers in the off-season and it carried over into the season,” Nedimyer said. “We’re trying to instill the things he did into the kids coming up. Adam was a leader by example in the weight room and on the field all season.”

A two-way lineman, the 6-foot-3, 250-pound Port was named to the Altoona Mirror all-star team as a defensive lineman, won the Altoona Football League scholarship and the Altoona First Savings Bank defensive scholarship.

Port also ran the ball as a fullback late in the season.

“That’s one of my fondest memories of him,” Nedimyer said. “When we told him, he was going to carry the ball a little bit, his eyes lit up. I wish we had him for another year. I believe his best football is ahead of him and Lafayette knows he has a high ceiling as well.”

AAHS signees

Six other AAHS student athletes, who will continue their athletic pursuits at Division II and III schools, also were recognized.

Zach Boslet, an outfielder on the baseball team, will play at Waynesburg University while catcher Joe DeRubeis is headed for Mount Aloysius University. They were introduced by coach Tom Smith.

Ireland McClellan, a middle hitter in volleyball, will continue her career at Penn State Altoona, according to AAHS coach John Saboe.

Aidan Rispoli and Gianna Marasco, who ran track and cross country for Altoona, will run in college. Coach Lee Baranik said Rispoli will run at Thiel College while coach Tabitha Quinn noted Marasco will compete at Lock Haven University.

Two-way lineman Trey Harkins will continue his football career at Grove City College.

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