Graeme and Sam: Fidelak, Goodwin honored by National Football Foundation chapter

St. Mary’s two-sport star senior Graeme Fidelak was among nine north Louisiana senior scholar-athletes honored last Thursday night at the annual National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete Awards Banquet, recognized alongside legendary retired Northwestern State coach Sam Goodwin.

Receiving NFF Scholar-Athlete Awards and $500 scholarship grants along with Fidelak were Caleb Aillet of Byrd, West Monroe’s Tag Banks, Tonzaiha Bland of Logansport, Luke Gibson of Mangham, Connor Heard from Minden, Benton’s R.J. Moore and Jed Worthey III of Cedar Creek.

Evan Howe of North DeSoto was the first recipient of the KTBS/Johnny’s Pizza Bob Griffin Scholarship, named in tribute of the iconic local TV sportscaster who covered area high school football and other sports for over a half-century. Griffin was also on the local NFF chapter’s board of directors.

Head football coaches around north Louisiana nominated senior players who carry at least a 3.2 cumulative grade point average, have earned all-district honors and are involved in extracurricular activities.

Goodwin received the NFF chapter’s Contributions to Amateur Football Award.

The Swiss Army Knife for St. Mary’s, Fidelak played receiver, running back, quarterback, cornerback and safety for coach Aaron York’s Tigers, who went 4-1 to open the season against all higher-classification opponents, and finished 8-3.

Fidelak carries a 3.93 grade point average and posted a 26 score on the ACT. He has been active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Beta Club and Future Business Leaders of America.

In All-State shortstop last spring on the SMHS baseball team, Fidelak made the 2021 Coaches All-State Class A football team and was honorable mention on the LSWA All-State team. He played in the I-20 Bowl All-Star Game and was a two-way first-team all-district selection.

He is considering attending either Denver University or the University of Arkansas.

The event was hosted by the NFF’s S.M. McNaughton Chapter of North Louisiana.

Goodwin is the winningest football coach in Northwestern history with 102 wins from 1983-99. His Demons won conference championships in 1984, 1988, 1997 and 1998, making FCS playoff appearances in the latter three seasons and reaching the national semifinals in 1998.

Thirty-eight of his players reached the NFL, and 22 won All-American honors, including College Football Hall of Fame member Gary Reasons. Goodwin also coached 1998 National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete winner Dr. William Broussard and two other Academic All-Americans, along with 42 all-conference selections. After ending his collegiate coaching and administrative career, his love for coaching the game returned him to prep football sidelines in Arkansas and then back in Louisiana at Pineville, Alexandria Senior High, Natchitoches Central, Lakeview and St. Mary’s.

The Pineville native is in the Southland Conference Hall of Honor, NSU’s N-Club Hall of Fame, and the hall of fame at his alma mater (Henderson State) and the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame for his playing career at Henderson and his high school coaching accomplishments in the 1970s at Little Rock-Parkview, where his teams won five state championships in the first seven seasons after he started the program.

The winner of the McNaughton Chapter’s Distinguished American Award, George Sirven has managed KTBS-TV as the station emerged as a significant community partner with its sponsorship of major events such as the Freedom Fest Fourth of July celebration, and promotion of many civic causes including St. Jude Children’s Hospital.

Last fall, KTBS celebrated the 25th anniversary of its popular Friday Football Fever scoreboard show, which was just named Best Sports Show by the Louisiana Association of Broadcasters. The native Cuban is a naturalized American citizen who early in his television career shot high school football footage for Griffin when both worked for KSLA-TV.

PHOTO: by ROBERT FREDERICK, TimeBox Photography