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Placer football players getting honored for community service, scholastic abilities

Isaac Brahce, Stone Sander recognized as scholar-athletes
By: Matthew Kimel, Journal sports editor
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Isaac Brahce and Stone Sander are good bros.

“He’s my best friend,” Sander said of Brahce. “We do everything together.”

In the fall, the duo were two-way playing stars for the Placer High football team, which went 11-1. They also led football camps to teach junior Hillmen how to become better players.

Off the field, they are leaders at Young Life and WyldLife. And they’re both excelling in the classroom.

On Thursday, Brahce and Sander will be recognized by the Sacramento Chapter of the National Football Foundation/College Hall of Fame for their scholastic abilities, community service and football prowess as scholar-athletes at the Sacramento Elks Club. 

Brahce and Sander will become the second and third Hillmen to receive the prestigious honor under coach Joey Montoya. 

“It’s a big achievement for them,” Montoya said. “We’ve nominated kids every year. We’ve had a lot of kids be alternatives to it. It’s our third to actually go. It’s a pretty special occasion to have a player of yours in something like this. This is what its all is about.”

Josh Klem is the only other Placer player of Montoya’s to receive the award.

There are several criteria student-athletes must meet in order to get recognized.

“These football scholars must have at least a 3.0 (GPA) and this year we even have one at 4.3,” said Sylvia Havens, secretary of the Sacramento chapter. “They must have recognition in their football playing ability and are well-rounded with school and community activities. Stone and Isaac are two examples of a scholar-athlete.”

Brahce, who has a 4.2 GPA, was caught off-guard when he found out him and Sander were selected to this year’s class of 36 area high school scholar-athletes.

“Coach (Mike) Sabins helped us fill out the applications,” Brahce said. “I was surprised to hear that I got in. It’s a huge honor and I’m definitely not taking it for granted. It’s crazy. Coach Sabins said it was rare for one of us to get in, plus it’s one of my good friends so it’s a cool situation.”

Sander, who has a 3.6 GPA, was equally stoked to be recognized.

“It’s really cool,” he said, “especially that we both got it. Most schools only get one, and we’ve got two.”

Brahce and Sander both enjoy working with kids.

“It’s fun to work with them,” Sander said. “You can tell they look up to us and idolize us in a way.”

Montoya said that Brahce had received the second highest score of all candidates based on the various criteria. For that, Brahce will get to lead the Pledge of Allegiance when the event begins.

“He’s a phenomenal kid,” Montoya said of Brahce. “He comes from a great family. He’s a great student, a great athlete, a great representative of Placer High School.”

Montoya, who had two scholar-athletes at Pioneer High School in Woodland, is hopeful more of his players will be honored in the future.

“Our goal is to get at least a kid every year in,” the coach said. “I’m really proud of them. These two guys are about as good as it gets when it comes to representing our high school and our football program.”

Brahce, who ran for 1,188 yards and 11 touchdowns last year, and Sander, who recently signed a National Letter of Intent to play football for Sacramento State on scholarship, both made key contributions in helping the Hillmen win their first Pioneer Valley League title in 2012.

Five local college football scholar-athletes, including Sierra College’s Alec Grodecki (Folsom High), will also be honored Thursday at the banquet.

Reach Matthew Kimel at matthewk@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter@matthewkimel