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Local players earn academic honors

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They left quite an impression on the high school football fields of Johnson County, but their mark in the classroom was even greater.

Before what likely will be a capacity crowd Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium, where the Indianapolis Colts host the Tennessee Titans, those ultimate inside-outside skills will be recognized.

Edinburgh senior Dakota Sneed and Greenwood’s Austin Montgomery will join 28 other student-athletes from the around the state on the Colts 2013 Academic All-Star Football Team. Players were selected by a statewide vote of high school coaches.

Each player ranked in the top 2 percent of his academic class.

“This is going to be something special to carry with you the rest of your life,” said Sneed, a center and defensive tackle on the Lancers football team who is also No. 1 in his class. “I am really honored.”

For Montgomery, a senior linebacker and fullback for Greenwood, the award caps a whirlwind week in which he also was notified of his appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

“It is simply awesome,” said Montgomery, who will join Sneed at a breakfast and awards ceremony prior to the Colts game and then view the contest as special guests.

This marks the 15th year the Colts, in conjunction with the IHSAA and the Indiana Football Coaches Association, have presented these awards to the top student athletes at each position across the state.

For both players, the award was made more special by a special connection.

“When I got notified of the award, coach (Blaine) Williams brought out his award from 2001,” Montgomery said of the Woodmen line coach who won the award in high school.

Similarly, Sneed saw former Lancer teammate Trent Tatlock — a 2013 graduate — win the award last season, a most impressive accomplishment for the Class A Edinburgh program.

“It really emphasizes the point that just because we go to one of the smallest schools in the state doesn’t mean that we don’t have talent or academics,” Sneed said. “Just because we are small doesn’t mean we don’t have something special.”

Indeed, the selection of two athletes from Johnson County this year on the prestigious squad speaks highly of the county’s programs generally.

“This is a special group of kids,” Edinburgh coach Bill Unsworth said of Montgomery, Sneed and Tatlock. “The parents have to be commended for stressing academics. They demand that they perform in the classroom.”

The two award-winners said succeeding in the classroom while balancing the demands of athletics is a matter of routine and discipline.

“I enjoy having a busy schedule,” said Montgomery, who will major in business at West Point but not play sports. “I would be too bored if I didn’t always have something going on. I figure out a way to get it all done.”

For Sneed, putting a priority on academics started long ago at home.

“Ever since I was in elementary school my mom has really emphasized that, as soon as you get home, do your homework,” said the three-sport athlete, who now plays for the Lancers’ varsity basketball team. “My mom has really been a positive influence on me.

“It is a matter of good time management.”

The Edinburgh senior is undecided on his college choice. He is seeking a school where he can play football.

The duo — both on the county’s top list of tacklers last season and both selected to the Daily Journal’s First Team All-County Team — list science as their favorite subject and have even more in common.

Montgomery and Sneed both throw the shot put and discus on their respective varsity track and field teams and will battle it out at the county meet and sectional in the spring.

But first, they will take the field at Lucas Oil Stadium this Sunday as teammates on one of the most prestigious football teams in the state.

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