SIDMANfather – Two Forest Hills seniors fulfilled childhood dreams Wednesday afternoon when they pledged to pursue their academic and football careers at NCAA Division III institutions.

Colten Danel will play at Oberlin College in Ohio. Dayton Maul is set to join the squad at Westminster College in New Wilmington.

Danel knew he had found his ideal fit when he visited Oberlin’s campus. The Yeomen, led by first-year coach John Pont, compete in the North Coast Athletic Conference.

“There was just something about it that felt like home,” Danel said.

“It kind of clicked.

“It was a very rural, small campus. The student-to-faculty ratio is insane. The coaches I spoke to were really great. I said to my parents, ‘Yes, this is the right place.’ ”

The running back recruit, who totaled 1,033 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground in 2022, plans to major in neuroscience and psychiatry.

He added 11 catches for 133 yards and two points. Danel, who also competes in track and volleyball at Forest Hills, has 54 tackles, including seven for losses, and 1.5 sacks.

“Colten’s work ethic is outstanding,” said Forest Hills coach Justin Myers. “He’s in the weight room all the time. He is constantly striving to improve. He developed into a footballer. From being a 1,000-yard rusher in his senior year, to 9.5 sacks in his junior year, and named as a sophomore All-State, he’s done many things to improve.

Danel, who played the December 22 offense-defense All-American Bowl at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, received an academic scholarship to Oberlin. He finished his career with 1,487 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns. On defense, he amassed 191 tackles, including 35 for losses, and 13.5 sacks. Danel has booted 48 punts for an average of 32.3 yards per kick over the course of his career.

Danel enjoyed the camaraderie at Oberlin.

“It seemed like everyone knew who everyone was,” Danel said. “The relationships they have built as teammates are truly outstanding. It was kind of cool that they built those close relationships that a lot of colleges don’t have. The trainers said they could adapt me in different ways.

His father, Matt, was a first-team player at the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference in Indiana, Pa., after graduating from Forest Hills in 1997.

Danel is the son of Matt and Kerry Danel.

Although limited to four games as a junior in 2021, Maul produced a breakout campaign in 2022. The wide receiver had 22 passes for 357 yards and a touchdown in 2022. He added 26 tackles and an interception on defense.

Maul will be participating in a Westminster program that is on the rise in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference.

“I really liked the small school atmosphere,” said Maul. “I really like that I can build a better connection with the professors. I feel like I would excel at school there.

“I don’t feel like I’m done playing football.

“I was injured (2021) and I feel like last year (2022) is just the beginning for me. I am really looking forward to the next four years.”

Maul, also a member of the baseball team, will have an emphasis on early childhood education at Westminster, which finished 7-3 in 2022. The Titans are led by coach Scott Benzel.

“Dayton has really evolved over the four years, especially in his junior and senior years where he’s grown,” Myers said. “He hit the weight room hard and truthfully, Dayton probably had the best ball skills on our team in terms of touch and making adjustments on the ball. His hands are amazing. I think the sky is the limit for Dayton right now because he will keep working.

Wednesday was an event that Maul looked forward to.

“I’ve loved playing soccer all my life,” Maul said.

“It was something I wanted to do.”

Maul thoroughly enjoyed his visit to Westminster.

“The Feldhaus is incredible,” said Maul. “The dressing rooms are crazy. They have two movie rooms. Everything about it, I just really like it.”

Maul’s father, Eric, played college baseball at Mansfield and Slippery Rock.

Maul is the son of Eric and Jill Maul.

Jake Oswalt is a contributing editor at The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter @TheWizOfOz11.

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