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St. John's athletes sign letters of intent, pause to remember former classmate

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Drew Savage, left, and Jake Nachtrab, seniors at St. John's Jesuit High School in Toledo, talk about their friend and former classmate, Brian Hoeflinger, following a National Signing Day event. Savage will attend Ohio University and run cross country. Nachtrab will attend Bowling Green State University as a preferred walk-on on the football team.

The Blade/Dave Zapotosky
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It was one of the happiest days of their lives. But, it happened during one of the saddest weeks for them.

Seven of St. John’s Jesuit High School’s top student athletes today signed National Letters of Intent to continue playing their chosen sports in college. But some of their hearts were still heavy with grief because one of their friends and a former classmate was killed in a traffic accident on Friday.

Brian Hoeflinger, 18, a senior at Ottawa Hills High School, was killed in a fiery crash shortly before midnight on Friday when his vehicle went off of southbound Edgehill Road and struck a tree near a bridge over the Ottawa River. Mr. Hoeflinger previously attended St. John’s Jesuit High School.

“Today is kind of a bittersweet day,” said St. John's senior Drew Savage, moments after signing his letter of intent to run cross country and track at Ohio University this fall. “We’ll be going to college this fall to play sports and make new friends. But, he’ll never be able to do that.

“It’s a real tragedy.”

RELATED ARTICLE: National Signing Day arrives as top athletes put commitments in writing

Also signing letters today were Matt Miller (Wisconsin), Brogan Roback (Eastern Michigan), and Tony Harper (Pittsburgh) to continue their football careers. Liam Allen (Toledo) and Jake Nachtrab (Bowling Green) signed as preferred walk-ons to the football teams at those schools. Matt Almester (Oakland University) will play soccer.

The students all wore small, blue ribbons on their shirts in honor of Mr. Hoeflinger, who was planning to attend the University of North Carolina and eventually become an orthodontist.

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