Favorite Athlete: Chase Utley
Favorite team: Philadelphia Eagles
Favorite memory competing in sports: Winning the little league championship with my brother on the team and my dad as the coach
Most embarrassing moment competing in sports: On my first ever touchdown when I was eight, I had a breakaway to the end zone and tripped over my own feet on the one-yard line and almost face planted into the end zone
Music on iPod: Today’s hits and 80s music
Future Plans: Attend college and continue playing football and baseball
Words to live by: “Going in one more round when you don’t think you can – that’s what makes all the difference in your life.” –Rocky Balboa
One goal before turning 30: Go on vacation to Hawaii
One thing people don’t know about me: I hate boats and will never go on them
By Craig Ostroff
There was no doubting Mike Schoenleber’s value to the Wissahickon football team on the field.
Described by Coach Randy Cuthbert as a “hard-nosed, old-school football player” who lined up at quarterback and linebacker and rarely left the field, the Wissahickon senior embodied the running quarterback, able to make things happen with his feet as well as his arm. As a result of his talents and work ethic, Schoenleber’s senior campaign saw him set the Trojans’ single-season passing record.
But that’s barely scratching the surface of what Schoenleber has meant to the football team.
Schoenleber served as a steadying influence and a strong leader for a team that has been through more than a bit of turmoil in recent years.
“Mike was critical in helping turn the attitude of the team around,” said Cuthbert, who inherited a team that went 1-9 during a tumultuous 2015 season. “He was already a team leader last year, and having gone through that, coming from last year, the number one thing we wanted to do was to change the culture and get competitive.
“Obviously, we wanted to win more games, and we were close in a bunch of them, but the team made some strides that didn’t show up in wins and losses. And Mike was a key guy. He was our quarterback, one of our best defensive players, and certainly one of our leaders.”
For Schoenleber, being that leader meant being able to adjust his expectations as the season progressed in order to remain the positive force that was expected of him.
“Honestly, we came in with high expectations,” he said. “We had a lot of seniors who had been playing together since we were eight. We had some really good skill position players, and with the new division and classes being mixed up, we thought we had a pretty good chance.
“All throughout high school, you dream of getting in the playoffs and going deep, so it bugged me when things didn’t go the way we had hoped early on. But we’re all really close on the team. And each game, even though we didn’t win, we didn’t quit. That didn’t happen a lot last year. Being able to finish games, being able to stick together and fight until the end was a big turning point and it was nice to see.”
The Trojans finished the season at 1-8 overall (0-6 in American Conference play), but dropped two games by less than a touchdown (including a 39-36 loss to conference power Plymouth-Whitemarsh) and were within two touchdowns in three other contests.
The marks in the loss column hurt but were tempered by the knowledge that the Trojans were playing like a team and remained both positive and competitive, no matter what the score or outcome.
According to Cuthbert, Schoenleber was a big part of that.
“People naturally look to Mike,” Cuthbert said. “Last year, a lot of guys quit when they started losing. This year, no one left. The kids fought, they modeled themselves after him. Mike’s a kid who plays hard regardless of what’s going on. He never wants to leave the field, and he gives you 110 percent every play. He’s a kid that the others will naturally follow. His attitude rubbed off on a lot of other people.”
And while the additional pressure to help turn around a slumping program was there, Schoenleber said he learned how to deal with it.
“I probably put a little too much pressure on myself the beginning of the year,” he said. “I was trying to do it all myself, trying to make nothing into something or forcing balls where they didn’t have to be, leading to turnovers. But the coaches told me to relax, I don’t have to do everything, I had plenty of teammates who could do things, too. Plus we had some younger guys who played a huge role stepping in this season.”
Come spring, Schoenleber will suit up for his final season on the baseball field for a Trojan squad that has seen much success in recent years.
In the classroom, he has five honors classes on his docket for his senior year. He is a member of the National Honor Society, the Senior Class Committee and the FANS Club. While he’s undecided where he’ll end up after he graduates in June, Schoenleber said he’s leaning toward a major in either criminal justice or physical education, and he plans on playing either football or baseball in college.
Wherever he goes, his presence in the Wissahickon locker room and on the football field will be missed.
“We had a lot of work to do in terms of changing the attitudes, starting things like a weight program,” Cuthbert said. “Mike was always at everything. He’s a guy you could always look to as an example.
“We knew this wasn’t going to be a quick fix. But as the year went on, practice started to look more like it should and we started to see what we wanted to see in terms of attitudes, expectations, accountability. Mike and the other seniors played a big role in starting those changes. Next year, the returning kids are going to look back and say those guys started the process for us.”
While Schoenleber never got the chance to experience the postseason, or even a winning season, he said he’s happy with the legacy he and his fellow seniors are leaving on the gridiron at Wissahickon.
“I think the football team is in a much better place than it was at the beginning of the season,” he said. “The new coaches set the foundation, everyone bought into it.
“This was obviously not exactly how I planned high school going in terms of wins and losses, but the win column doesn’t represent what we’ve done here. I’ve had a great experience playing with the same people I started with 10 years ago, and that means a lot to me. I hope the guys coming back will remember me as the guy that no matter what the score was, no matter what the situation was, never gave up, never quit, fought till the end. And if they continue to build on what we started, that’s a good legacy to leave behind.”