Centerville High School awarded Sonny Unger Memorial Scholarships to seniors Jonathan Bruder and Will Jackson-Linkhart on Sunday night.
In most years, the scholarships are presented at a banquet, but they were presented during a virtual ceremony this year. Centerville football coach Brent Ullery called the scholarship the most prestigious award the program offers.
The award is named for a 1963 Centerville High School graduate who played fullback. Lester E. “Sonny” Unger was killed during his second tour of duty in the Vietnam War in 1966. He received a Bronze Star, The Air Medal and a Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster for heroism, according to the Sonny Unger Foundation, which was started after his death.
Bruder, a linebacker who led the Elks with 94 tackles as a junior and 77 tackles as a senior, said he was honored and humbled to get the award. He started his career as a safety and first saw varsity action as a sophomore.
“That’s really when I was forced to start my leadership,” Bruder said. “It felt like things were falling apart, but being vocal was a big thing for sure in our program and just leading by example.”
Bruder became a captain as a junior.
“It was a big honor because there’s not a lot of juniors going through the program that become captains,” Bruder said. “It’s a senior thing. But the players vote on it. It was a big honor as a junior to have such an impact on everybody around me.”
Bruder will attend DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind. He liked the school in part because it will be a gateway to Into Indiana’s medical school, and he’s considering getting into orthopedic surgery or neuroscience. He will also play football for the Tigers.
“I had a lot of options, for sure,” Bruder said. “I was looking at Denison at first and went in to visit, and I really loved what their defensive coordinator (Rory Mannering) brought to the table, and then he transferred jobs over to DePauw. I started talking with him more there and the other coaches, and I loved it there.”
Jackson-Linkhart attended Beavercreek his first two years and then came to Centerville for the 2019 season. He caught 78 passes for 1,017 yards and 11 touchdowns as a junior.
“This honor means everything,” he said. “I came to Centerville from Beavercreek, and I just kind of kept my head down and worked and tried to make it known that I was there for a reason and I was there to join that brotherhood. And I did just that. It’s an incredible honor to be able to get the most prestigious Centerville award only being there for two years. I’m greatly honored and very appreciative to everyone involved who allowed me to get to where I am today.”
In the shortened 2020 season, Jackson-Linkhart tied for the team lead with Cameron Smith with 39 receptions and ranked second with 459 receiving yards. He plans to play at Tiffin University, which finished 6-0 this spring.
“Tiffin gave me my first offer,” he said. “I had pretty pretty decent junior season and got on the map a little bit, but the bigger stuff just never came and they told me right away, ‘You’re getting overlooked but we’ve got this offer. I know we’re D-II, but you can come join this family.’ They they treated me like family. They were supportive. They want me to come play, and I’m excited to do that.”