Arata honored at luncheon

Published 7:00 am Saturday, April 16, 2016

Pope John Paul II senior Andrew Arata was honored at the All-State Sugar Bowl Scholar Athlete Luncheon on Monday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, for being selected as one of the 37 scholar-athletes by the group’s committee.

“It was a huge honor,” Arata said. “They talked about how many kids are nominated and how many senior players play football. They had a lot of people to choose from. It was really awesome hearing Archie Manning announce my name and read off my accomplishments. He’s an icon in this area.”

The event, which is sponsored by the All-State Sugar Bowl Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame, honors high school football players who excel on the field, in the classroom and in the community. Football players that go to school in Jefferson Parish, Orleans Parish, St. Bernard Parish and St. Tammany Parish are eligible to be scholar athletes.

Schools nominate students and the committee decides who the honorees will be. The luncheon featured 37 invitees. Six received a $10,000 scholarship based on essays they submitted after being invited to the event. All of those invited were honored at the event with former New Orleans Saints quarterback Archie Manning announcing each student with their achievements.

Arata, a Bogalusa resident who has a 3.5 grade-point average, said the biggest moment for him at the event was standing up and hearing all of his accomplishments read back to himself and reflecting back.

“To relive all of the memories, hearing all of that stuff come back felt really good,” he said.

Some of Arata’s accomplishments at Pope John Paul II included making a 30 on the ACT, winning the Lester Latino Award this year, being a second-team all-district player at defensive back and being a team captain.

Arata, whose brother William was one of the invitees last year, said his two best moments at PJP came in victories.

The first one was in his sophomore year, the team reached the playoffs and had to play Menard in the Division III playoffs, 22-6. PJP was the No. 12 seed while Menard was the fifth seed.

“It was the greatest thing ever, driving four hours, playing a higher-ranked team and winning convincingly,” Arata said.

His other great memory occurred this season when the team defeated Springfield, 19-14, in a game that came down to the wire to stop a 15-game losing streak.

This season, Arata proved to be a versatile player for the Jaguars. Besides playing defensive back, he also played wide receiver, quarterback, wing back, outside linebacker and he kicked off.