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Hun's Malcolm Brunson, Princeton's Connor Coffee earn DelVal honors as top scholars
4/1/2019 3:57 PM

It’s only fitting that Princeton High and the Hun School are situated in the shadow of Princeton University, because both schools have football players with the kind of intelligence the Ivy League institution is known for.

Which is why the Tigers’ Connor Coffee and the Raiders’ Malcolm Brunson are their schools’ honorees at the 57th Annual George Wah Scholar-Leader-Athlete Dinner, sponsored by The Delaware Valley Chapter of the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame.

The dinner is March 10, 4 p.m., at the Princeton Marriott. Players from 22 schools will be honored with $1,000 scholarships, while three special winners will receive the $5,000 Jack Stephan Scholarship, the $2,500 Ron Rick Sr. Scholarship, and the $1,500 Ed Cook Scholarship.

For tickets or ad book information, contact Ron Hoehn at 609-731-6610.

Other Colonial Valley Conference players being honored are Aaron Bennett (Trenton), Michael Quigg (Hightstown) Robbie Bennett (Nottingham), Krystian Hajduczka (Lawrence), Nick Campbell (Allentown), James Kim (Ewing), Eddie Fennell IV (Hamilton West), Steven Doldy (Hopewell Valley), Evan Collins (Notre Dame), Paul Milo (Robbinsville), Tim Toomer (Steinert) and Brian Zhong (West Windsor-Plainsboro).

Other Mercer County prep school honorees are David Harris (Peddie), Diassa Diakite (Lawrenceville) and Brandon West (Pennington). Area school athletes being recognized will be Connor Healy (New Egypt), John Stothoff (North Hunterdon), Jack Parker (Bordentown) and John Woolston (Florence).

Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo Onofri will receive the Robert F. Casciola Distinguished American Award, George Kloutis will receive the Contribution to Youth Football and Jack Rice is the Youth Scholar Award winner. Charlie Thompson will get the George O’Gorman Contribution to Amateur Football Award, the Nick Gusz Good Guy Award goes to Sharron Grady, Abe Johnson will receive the Jack Millard Officials Award and Brian Pitts is this year’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver Champion. Other honors will go to Max Busca (TCNJ’s Earl H. Dean Scholar-Leader-Athlete), Tom Johnson (Princeton University Judge Arthur Lane Scholar-Leader-Athlete) and Santuzza Oilers (Tony Persichilli Meritorious Service Award).

Coffee, who hails from Cranbury, was a member of the football program for four years and was the PHS Football Scholar-Athlete Award winner for the past three seasons. He started at defensive end and offensive line on varsity for two years and served as captain as a senior.

“Connor has always made an impact on our football program,” coach Charlie Gallagher said. “His junior year he started at defensive end and was a real bright spot and was a disruptive force on team that struggled in the win column. Our staff was excited to have him back for another year. Connor continued his commitment in the offseason, being a leader in the weight room and being unanimously voted captain.

“Connor has never been one to look for the limelight. He is guy who makes his living putting his hand in the dirt. He was a real outstanding football player for us his senior year. A complement to Connor is we were able to move him from the left side to the right side, from guard to tackle and back. He was extremely versatile in his play and always was accepting of the responsibility. Connor has been an unselfish and a total team player.”

The grandson of the late Richard Coffee, a one-time New Jersey State Senator and New Jersey State Democratic Chairman, Coffee has a cumulative weighted grade point average of 3.76 and has followed in grandfather’s footsteps as president of Princeton’s student council. He also volunteers for Teen PEP, educating freshmen about making healthy sexual decisions and informing them on the risks of drugs and alcohol. Connor worked as an intern for Assemblyman Dan Benson last summer. He has received the Cum Laude Award for his score in the National Latin Exam and earned the AP Scholar Award.

“During our entire class period Connor was carefully concentrating on the material being discussed,” AP Economics teacher Lisa Bergman said. “He was up to date on current economic issues and enjoyed applying the theory he learned in class to the real world. The coursework in AP Economics was sometimes a challenge, but he never gave up and didn’t take the easy way out by dropping the class. Instead he dug deep within himself and had the determination to complete the class with a solid grade. I enjoyed having Connor in class. He conducted himself with integrity, is very well liked and has the respect of his peers and teachers.”

Despite an injury-plagued career that saw him miss four games with a torn MCL as a sophomore and miss nearly the entire season with a broken foot as a junior, Brunson was a two-year varsity starter at Hun. He was Freshman Offensive Player of the Year at St. Peter’s Prep before transferring. The Plainfield product earned first-team All-MAPL and All-Prep at linebacker as a senior, served as a team captain, and earned a full scholarship to Morgan State University.

“Malcolm’s journey at the Hun School was filled with ups and downs, but through injury and doubt he emerged as one of the best football players I have ever coached,” Raiders coach Todd Smith said. “He is one of the best human beings I have ever had the pleasure to be around. With his core values intact and shining through, Malcolm has set himself up to change his life forever. He gained admission to some of the finest institutions in the country. Hun became Malcolm’s home for the past three years, but he will be a part of my family for life.”

Brunson has a GPA in the 80s; was a 2018 National Honor Society member; and scored an eye-popping 1450 on his SATs. At Hun he served as a proctor and is a member of the Black Student Union, Alzheimer’s Awareness Club, North Shelton AME Chess Club (2016 champion), North Shelton AME Usher/Altar Stewart and the Discipline Committee.

“Malcolm is rock-solid student with great practiced habits for reaching his targeted goals,” Hun college counselor Damian Long said. “His work ethic is clear and consistent. Each year Malcolm has increased his academic course load and performance. A confident scholar and community leader has emerged and Malcolm’s academic abilities are materializing at the right time.

“I have discovered that Malcolm is very thoughtful and does not rush into any assignment without a detailed plan of attack. He is internally motivated and applies an attitude of growth, accountability and outcome focus toward his academics. He is an impactful citizen with transferable talents that will be instrumental toward lifelong success. He has earned my respect and support.”

Follow Rich Fisher on twitter @fish4scores

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