ERIC MEEKS, Marshall University
Meeks, a 6-foot-4, 280-pound offensive lineman, will continue his academic and athletic careers at Marshall University. The Thundering Herd will play
Alabama-Birmingham in the Conference USA Championship Game on Saturday,
Meeks is a four-year Varsity football starter and a four-year Varsity shot
put/discus thrower. In football, he started at all five offensive line positions (tackle, guard, center), long snapper, nose guard and defensive tackle.
Named First-Team All-State in Class 6-A by the Indiana Football Coaches
Association, Meeks was also a Kingsmen Team Captain, a two-time
all-conference selection, an all-conference academic team, and a two-time Varsity Special Teams MVP. He was named to the Second-Team D1 All-Southwest Ohio District Team, was named a Second-Team D1 2019 Greater Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky High School Fall All-Star, and is a two-time All-Saban Team Award
Winner. Meeks is currently ranked as 3-Star offensive center, 29th best in the country, and 4.5 Star long snapper, 73rd best in the country.
“Marshall has a great team culture that is unique,” Meeks said. “Each year they honor the lives of 75 players, coaches, fans and crew who died in the 1970 plane crash when returning from an away football game. The school has a strong relationship with the community, and I have built a solid relationship with the football coaches.”
Meeks said that Penn Football has helped him prepare for NCAA Division I
“… My coaches and teammates consistently held me to a high standard each and every day,” Meeks said of the Kingsmen. “The program size and intensity helped me to build the habits essential to success in college and beyond.
“I appreciate all the coaches, players, parents and community support during an extremely challenging season,” Meeks said. “The quick acceptance into the team and community made me feel like I was part of the team for longer than a season.”
Meeks has achieved Eagle Scout status. He raised more than $10,000 and
coordinated 44 volunteers working more than 200 hours to install American with Disabilities Act-compliant bleachers at a local baseball field.
Earlier this year, he received the USA Today/Cincinnati.com “I am Sport” award that recognizes student-athletes for their community service work.
Meeks has also collected supplies for a food pantry, built a gaga pit for a local elementary school, built garden boxes for a local school and worked with the Red Cross to install about 1,000 smoke alarms in low-income areas of Cincinnati.
He has volunteered over 900 hours to a variety of community service
organizations, including Matthew 25, ushering Ohio State University football games, cleaning up trash in the community, and water-station worker at the Flying Pig Marathon.
KYLE RIFFEL, Hillsdale College
Kyle Riffel, one of Penn Football’s most prolific running backs, will take his academic and athletic talents to Hillsdale College.
Riffel is on track to graduate Summa Cum Laude, the highest designation in
Penn’s Latin Honors System. He has a grade-point average of better than 4.0 on a 4.0 scale. He has been on the Principal’s Honor Roll for four years, and he earned All-State All-Academic Team honors.
A 5-foot-11, 193-pound running back, Riffel, achieved 2,320 all-purpose yards and scored 24 touchdowns in his junior and senior seasons. He was a driving force in Penn earning a 2019 Northern Indiana Conference Championship.
“I chose Hillsdale because they offered everything I desired in a college,” Riffel said. “The administration, coaches, and students that I met on my visits were incredibly welcoming and had nothing but positive things to say and present about the university. I also love the potential curriculum and of course the football program.”
A Penn Football Team Captain and a Northern Indiana Conference all-conference selection, Riffel is also a leader among leaders as a member of Penn’s Student-Athlete Leadership Council. The SALC consists of 25 student-athletes who represent the more than 1,000 Kingsmen student-athletes.
“Penn has helped me prepare for a collegiate career by aiding me in becoming the best teammate and overall person I could be,” Riffel said. “I’ve learned
through the Penn system that it takes every man doing his part to produce success. I’ve developed habits of work and practice through Penn that will help me anticipate any challenge that will come my way.”
Riffel said that he values his Penn experience.
“I appreciate all of the memories, people, and experiences that Penn has given me,” Riffel said. “I’ve met friends that I am certain I will have for life, and those friendships have developed into a brotherhood that can’t be topped by any other sport or organization.
“I’ve learned many things about a certain attitude to have to be the best player,student, and most importantly teammate you can be,” Riffel said. “This was instilled through the coaches and other members of the community who want nothing but success for their players.”
Riffel is also a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Penn
Republican Club and the Speech Team.
RON POWLUS III, University of Notre Dame
Ron Powlus will continue his academic and athletic careers at the University of Notre Dame.
“Notre Dame has the best combination of academics and athletics in the
country,” Powlus said. “I recognized the opportunity I was presented with and knew it was the right choice for me.
“This opportunity is a blessing and I’m honored to be a part of Notre Dame.”
A 6-foot-4, 226-pound quarterback, Powlus was named First-Team All-State IFCA Class 6-A, as well as earning First-Team All-Northern Indiana Conference honors.
Powlus connected on 104-of-184 passes (56 percent) for 1,435 yards (12
touchdowns/five interceptions) in 2020.
“It has been an honor to play for Coach Cory and the Penn Kingsmen,” Powlus said. “The tradition and prestige of this program, along with the challenging and competitive schedule every year has helped to prepare me to continue my football career.”
Powlus will graduate in 2021 with Latin Academic Honors distinction.
At Penn High School, Powlus is a leader among leaders. He has emerged as a
driving force on the Penn High School Student-Athlete Leadership Council. The SALC consists of 20 of Penn’s top student-athlete leaders (out of more than 1,200 student-athletes). Powlus owns the rare distinction of being selected twice to participate in the Indiana High School Athletic Association Student Leadership Conference.
Powlus is the son of Ron and Sara Powlus. Powlus’ brother, Tommy, is a
Freshman at Penn High School and a member of the Penn Football Team.
Ron Powlus’ father, Ron Powlus II, is a former Notre Dame quarterback and NFL player who is the associate athletics director and sport administrator for Notre Dame Football.