NFL rewards Tuisano

By Randy Lefko Sports Editor
Posted 9/30/20

ORANGE PARK - Ridgeview High middle linebacker Miika Tuisano was getting a whole bunch of texts Saturday night and it was not because his Panthers football team upset the Fleming Island High Golden …

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NFL rewards Tuisano


ORANGE PARK - Ridgeview High middle linebacker Miika Tuisano was getting a whole bunch of texts Saturday night and it was not because his Panthers football team upset the Fleming Island High Golden Eagles the night before.

"I woke up and there were hundreds of notifications on my phone with most of them sending me a video," said Tuisano, who has been the focal point of a resurgent Ridgeview High football team intent on bettering their 1-9 season record in 2019. "I finally got up and watched one of the videos.

For Tuisano, the videos were of the Saturday morning National Football League's Good Morning Football television show that not only highlighted the current status of NFL play in the league, but, on Saturday, revealed that Tuisano had been the recipient of the NFL's weekly Way to Play award.

"I didn't even know what it was all about," said a still-flabbergasted Tuisano as he tried to unravel exactly what had happened to him when the television hosts said his name. "I thought it was cool that they mentioned me, but that was it."

According to the NFL Director of Communications Taylor Kielpinski-Rogers, in a release from the NFL, the league works with Hudl for the Way to Play High School Award and receive submissions from the coaches.

This is the second year of the Way to Play High School Award, which honors one high school football player weekly for demonstrating exceptional in-game playing technique. In addition to the national recognition on NFL Network and being featured on the NFL’s social media channels, the honoree’s school will receive a $1,500 equipment grant through USA Football.

This year, due to COVID-19, we have extended the high school award an additional 17 weeks so that schools within states that have moved their youth and high school football programs to the spring of 2021 still have the opportunity to be recognized. The High School Award will run through June 2021. This award is voted on by a distinguished panel of NFL representatives including Troy Vincent, Jon Runyan, Roman Oben, Phil Bogle, Kevin Boothe and Jay Manahan.

“The Way to Play Award is about excellence in football through proper technique that protects players from unnecessary risk,” said Troy Vincent, NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations. “This award incentivizes strong fundamental playing technique, demonstrates best practices, and at the same time, benefits all levels of the game.”

For the third week of high school football, Tuisano, with 25 total tackles in three games; 13 against Wolfson in game one, was named the Week 3 NFL Way to Play High School Award Recipient. The Way to Play Award, in its second year and, in conjunction with Hudl, a national sports website that allows athletes to put game film online for college recruitment purposes, has picked Tuisano as the third recipient in 2020.

Tuisano's stats include 13 tackles against Wolfson with five for loss and a forced fumble in Panther 28-7 win; six tackles, one for loss in 35-0 win over Middleburg, and six tackles; two for loss, in loss to Fleming Island.

"He has started this season after a very productive summer training program that put him in great shape," said Ridgeview coach Matt Knauss. "Miika is deserving of the award as one of the hardest working linebackers out there."

The previous two recipients; Owen Prince of Plattsmourth High School in Plattsmouth, Nebraska, and Jaxson Folks of Perry-Lecompton High School in Perry, Kansas, and Tuisano were all honored with the Saturday morning announcement plus were given a $1,500 equipment grant through USA football for the Panther program.

Plattsmouth High School is currently 6-0 with Prince being a junior wide receiver/safety with an 18 yards per catch average with three scores in five games. Prince also has 27 tackles and two interceptions on defense.

Perry-Lecompton High School is also unbeaten at 4-0 with Folks a senior linebacker with 35 tackles in four games with four tackles for losses.

Tuisano has led the Panther team to a 2-0 opening of 2020 with a 35-0 shutout of Middleburg last week. The Panthers lost to unbeaten Fleming Island in game three.


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