Gridders Nall and Salanga honored

"Spartans Maurice Salanga and Brandon Nall were honored at a Saturday brunch by the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame.Spartan football fans won't soon forget Nall's performance during the final game of the 2000 season. Coach Andy Grimm tabbed Nall as the starter at quarterback against Sequim in recognition of his four years in the Spartan program - freshman, JV and varsity - as an undersized but gritty and inspirational player. Nall repaid his coach's confidence as he drove the team down the field. Facing a fourth and goal situation on the five, he ducked beneath a would-be tackler, rolled to his right and completed a touchdown pass. And blocking for him was his friend Salanga, playing his first season of football as a senior. The annual ceremony honors two players - a back and a lineman - from area schools with a brunch and speakers at the Bellevue Hyatt. A bonus this year was the opportunity to attend the Seahawks-Raiders game that afternoon, and the Spartans enjoyed themselves despite the soggy weather. We were down by the sidelines, said Salanga, and I tried to yell to Rickey Watters.Grimm and his staff, with 12 seniors, chose Nall and Salanga in part on the basis of academics, as each has well over a 3.0 GPA, in addition to school activities and their impact on the team. Both came to practice every day, Grimm said. Both did the very best they could, and made our team better.Nall's football career began at age 6 in Georgia, and this fall marked the 13th consecutive year he's played the game. Salanga, on the other hand, had never played football prior to Nall's urging this year.I'm sorry I didn't start playing sooner, said 6-foot, 185-pounder who played primarily as an offensive tackle and on special teams. I really like football, and it was a great experience to play this year.Neither had even heard of the award before being notified of their selection.Nall's reaction: I won? Wow! Great! I was flattered and honored, Salanga said. It was nice to represent Bainbridge, and I enjoyed the chance to listen to (UW coach Rick) Neuheisel and (Seahawks coach) Holmgren.Nall, en route to what he hopes will be an appearance in the state wrestling championships in the 135-pound division, carried away a somewhat different impression. Despite a bill of fare consisting of scrambled eggs, diced potatoes, muffins, bacon, and fruit, Nall confessed that he pushed away from the table hungry. "

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