Charles Benton won't compete in varsity athletics while he studies chemical engineering at the University of Dayton, but his performance in the classroom and on the field of play at Johnstown-Monroe High School helped him earn state recognition.
Benton was the recipient of a $1,000 Ohio High School Athletic Association scholarship. For the 22nd year, the OHSAA awarded scholarships totaling $55,000 to 49 recent graduates from throughout the state.
Recipients were selected by special committees within each of the six OHSAA athletic districts based on a point system that rewarded students for their GPA, ACT or SAT scores, varsity letters earned and individual and team athletic honors.
"I was pleasantly surprised," said Benton, who was the salutatorian for the 2014 graduating class with a 4.6 weighted GPA. "(High school guidance counselor) Ms. (Debbie) Merrill told me that I should fill out the form for (the OHSAA scholarship) because she thought I would have a good chance at it. I didn't think much about it. It was pretty amazing."
Benton played football and soccer all four years at Johnstown. He also participated in basketball and track and field.
In football, Benton was a place-kicker and punter who earned honorable mention all-district recognition in Division IV as a senior. He went 3-for-4 on field goals, 35-for-39 on extra points and averaged 34.5 yards per punt as the Johnnies finished 5-5 overall and second (3-1) in the LCL-Small School Division behind Newark Catholic (4-0).
As a junior, Benton was 35-for-39 on extra points and 3-for-6 on field goals to earn special mention all-state and first-team all-district. He made 66 of 76 extra points as a sophomore to earn special mention all-district.
"Charles was a valuable teammate for both us and the soccer program," football coach Mike Carter said. "He put in double time to take care of all of his responsibilities and still got it done in the classroom. He is quite a young man to balance everything and handle that."
In Benton's senior season, the boys soccer team finished 10-4-4 overall and went 3-1-3 in the LCL to place third behind Watkins Memorial (6-0-1) and Granville (6-1). As a forward, Benton was honorable mention all-league after leading the Johnnies in scoring with 18 goals and three assists.
"Charles was a big part of what we were last year," coach Chris Turner said. "We often used him on both ends of the field. He was our leading scorer and probably one of our best defenders.
"He leaves a hole that will be hard to fill. He brought a lot to the table in terms of maturity, and that was really important to us. He was great at working with the younger kids and he was so important to our team atmosphere."
Benton said playing both football and soccer in the fall could be beneficial in preparing for college.
"It was time consuming (playing two fall sports), but a lot of it came down to time management," he said. "If you have time in study hall, you have to knock out your homework.
"I think playing sports teaches you to be determined, and you realize how hard work can pay off. You can apply that to the classroom as well."