Superior High School senior Cedric Mendoza, a member of the Panthers’ state championship football team, was honored by the National Football Foundation – Valley of the Sun Chapter at the 37th Annual Scholar Athlete Awards Banquet, which took place on Saturday, Apr. 9, at the Scottsdale Hilton Resort & Villas.
Mendoza, a 1A All-State selection at both wide receiver and defensive end, was named to NFF Valley of the Sun Chapter & Fiesta Bowl Charities Second Team. He was one of 60 Scholar Athletes honored representing more than 250,000 high school football players from 186 high schools in central and northern Arizona. The winners were selected based on the combined criteria of 40% academics, 40% football accomplishments and 20% school and community citizenship and participation.
“Being recognized as a top-60 scholar athlete by the NFF is special to me because the award gives me a sense of accomplishment after four long years of hard work in the classroom and on the field,” said Mendoza, the owner of a 3.693 GPA and the 2018 1A East Region Defensive Player of the Year.
Additionally, Mendoza is a United Dairymen of Arizona All-American, Vice President of his senior class, as well as a DECA member and the FCCLA Treasurer.
“Cedric is a disciplined and dedicated student athlete,” Superior head coach Ryan Palmer told the Superior Sun. “He is always in the weight room, every day – first to arrive, last to leave. His work ethic is one of the best I have seen. In my opinion, he was the best defensive player in the 1A conference.”
Mendoza attributes his success on and off the field to a difficult and upbringing and a desire not to become “a product of my environment.”
According to Palmer, the team didn’t know until after the season that Mendoza played the last few weeks of the football season with a torn meniscus.
“He had 160 yards receiving and 2 touchdowns in the first half of the State Championship game on one leg,” said Palmer. “That tells you everything you need to know about his desire and toughness.”
Added Mendoza: “Having the goal of winning a state football championship, and not letting my teammates, family and coaches down is what helped me persevere throughout the season.”
What advice would Mendoza give young, future Panthers who want to follow in his footsteps on the field and in the classroom?
“I would tell younger Panthers to stay true to yourself, do not follow the crowd, and to always give your best effort,” he answered.
Spoken like a true scholar-athlete.