Get our newsletters

Palisades teammates apply lessons learned as Pirates on college field


Ethan Brader quickly discovered the rigors of being a college football quarterback.

The former Palisades standout signal caller recently completed his first season as a member of the Muhlenberg football program. He ended his career at Palisades as the school’s all-time leading rusher and has the mark for career touchdown passes.

“You are always watching film or studying a playbook,” said Brader, who was a backup with the Mules this season. “It really is non-stop preparation.

“There are more intangibles you have to worry about. The game also is a lot faster. The first time I got into a game this year I was nervous. But after the first play, I settled down.”

Brader is among eight former Pirates from the 2017 District 11 Class 3A championship team playing Division I-III football along East Coast colleges and universities this fall.

Other players who played this past season at respective universities and colleges were Jared Colletti (Coast Guard Academy), Trey Gretzinger (Millersville), Drew Nickles (Delaware), Ben Scoggin (Harvard) T.J. Rakowsky (Lehigh), Pat Lodwig (Susquehanna), and Max Allanson-Dundon (Muhlenberg).

The players were all integral parts of a team that posted a 29-8 mark over three seasons that included two district playoff appearances and an Eastern Conference championship. It arguably was the most successful three-year run in the school’s football history.

Despite dealing with the pressures of college football, they all agreed their transition to the next level was made easy due to their Palisades experience with former head coach Kevin Ronalds and his staff.

“Coach Ronalds and his staff prepared us well,” stressed Brader. “He had experience coaching at the collegiate level, and he ran his program like a college one.

“None of us have been shocked about anything we have seen in college.”

Colletti was a sophomore running back/slot receiver as well as a kick returner this past season. He also realized the impact of his former coaching staff.

“Coach Ronalds prepared us better and more than anyone could have,” said Colletti, who had over 2,000 rushing yards for his career. “I think we all did more work with that team than we are doing now.

“We all just had so much fun playing, and we were all loose. Winning the district title was a very enjoyable season and my most memorable one. We all just kept pushing each other along the way and we gave everything we had out there in the district title game (a 48-42 win over Lehighton).

“Going into college, the feeling wasn’t that much different than high school, and that has really helped a lot.”

Gretzinger was redshirted this past season, but he still experienced the full complement as a wide receiver. His Palisades’ memories still are very fresh in his memory.

“Coming from high school, it was a matter of learning new offenses,” said Gretzinger, who rushed for over 3,400 yards and has the career marks in rushing touchdowns and touchdowns in a game. “We basically ran the same offense over four years. It was an adjustment moving to wide receiver from running back.

“Coach Ronalds was hard on us and we saw how it paid off. Those are times I will never forget, and it always is nice to come back to visit. We all have stayed in touch and we all rehash the memories.”

Nickles, a sophomore, is a starter at inside linebacker and is third on the team in tackles at Delaware.

He spent most of his time as a defensive end at Palisades, but he has made a rather easy adjustment.

“I always have liked rushing the passer, and I did a little bit of that in my freshman year,” said Nickles. “Now, I am calling signals and it hasn’t been that much of a change. Working on pass coverage was a challenge for me, and it has been different.

“I know I have to put on some weight and try to get stronger. We have a nutrition program here and we watch a lot more film.

“Our Palisades years were special to all of us, and we stay in touch with each other. Coach Ronalds taught us a lot of the game and a lot about life.”

Scoggin, a two-time, first-team Colonial League selection at tackle, dressed but didn’t participate during his recent freshman season.

He was grateful to play his role in the Pirates’ plunder.

“I was just so happy to be part of it,” stressed Scoggin. “Even now, we all still have a close bond. The coaching staff worked us hard, but we knew we had something special. It was a great time.

“We knew from the first game of the year we won districts that it was our year. Notre Dame was our nemesis and we beat them to start the season and then really beat them in the semifinals. It felt so good to win a district title after all the hard work we put into it.”