ST. PAULS — What defines an especially strong student-athlete is not lost on St. Pauls High School senior Kane Banner.
“You got to remember the first part — student,” Banner said Thursday on the St. Pauls football practice field.
The Bulldogs senior quarterback certainly hasn’t forgotten during his four years at St. Pauls High.
Touting a 4.7 weighted GPA, Banner is ranked No. 1 in his senior class and a member of numerous academic clubs, including the SGA, African American, Science and Math clubs.
“Our coaches always make sure that all of our grades are taken care of,” Banner said. “It’s really helpful that our coaches make us keep our grades up before we come on the field.”
He’s no slouch on that field, either.
As St. Pauls starter under center, Banner has amassed 26 total touchdowns — 17 passing and nine rushing — while helping lead the Bulldogs, who’ve racked up a county-best 470 points, to a 7-3 overall record and 2-2 Three Rivers Conference mark. Friday, Banner accounted for 332 yards and three touchdowns in St. Pauls’ 56-10 win at West Columbus.
Banner’s high marks on both ends of the student-athlete spectrum has earned him October’s Mountaire/Heartland Scholar Athlete of the Month Award.
The Mountaire/Heartland Scholar Athlete program’s mission is to highlight male and female senior student-athletes within Robeson, Scotland and Bladen counties who carry a 3.0 GPA or higher. Nominees need to also be recognized by their coaches for outstanding sportsmanship and perform with superior ability in athletic competition.
Each monthly winner receives a $1,000 college scholarship and becomes eligible for an additional $1,500 in college funds that is awarded in June to the male and female scholar athletes of the year.
“It helps a lot,” Banner said. “Right now, getting ready for college, everybody’s pushing me to get scholarships, so every little bit’s helping right now, and this ($1,000 scholarship) is going to help a tremendous amount.”
In the meantime, Banner, who along with football plays basketball in the winter and runs track in the spring, is looking to continue being a model student-athlete at St. Pauls.
“Kane is the definition of what a student-athlete should be,” said Travis Lemanski, who coaches JV football and varsity basketball and is a science teacher at St. Pauls. “He is extremely cerebral and a fierce competitor. He’s very mature, responsible and honest. His parents did a fine job raising him and molding him into the young man he is today.”
Banner, in fact, gives a lot of credit to his parents, Mike and Erica Setzer.
“My parents have always made sure my grades are always right or they won’t let me play (sports); they always push me,” Banner said. “It may be my last year ever playing football again. I don’t want to give it up without a fight. Everyday, I’m giving everything I have.”
The Valedictorian-bound Banner is hoping that gusto will translate to an admission into an Ivy League school next fall. He plans to study pre-med in college.
“I want to be a cardiac surgeon when I grow up,” Banner said. “All of my teachers, my guidance counselors, my brothers, my sisters, my cousins, everybody is telling me to keep my head in school — that school is going to take me farther in life than anything else.”
Reach Sports Editor Kaleb Roedel at 910-272-6111 or email@example.com.