KINGSFORD — Two Upper Peninsula high schoolers are among an elite group of student athletes in the running for a big national award.

“Not only do these students excel in their chosen sport, but they shine academically and are outstanding members of their communities,” said Jerry Csaki, Pro Football Hall of Fame Manager of Youth and Education.

Benjamin Moreau and Olivia Truscott are the two U.P. students chosen to be among twenty finalists for the U.S. Army and Pro Football Hall of Fame Award for Excellence. Truscott was honored at Iron Mountain High School earlier this month, while Moreau got his recognition Friday morning at his high school in Kingsford.

“It’s surreal,” said Moreau. I was taken aback, and it’s really quite an honor and really special to be here.”

“It’s cool to be honored by both the U.S. Army and the Pro Football Hall of Fame,” Truscott added.

Hall of Famer and retired Green Bay Packers wide receiver James Lofton was on hand to help honor the students, who made it this far by excelling at athleticism, academics, and community service.

“Excellence isn’t an accomplishment. I think it’s something that you continue, and it’s something that you’re always striving for,” said Lofton.

Passion for their training and studies is a key element that helped these students make it to the final round.

“Once you find something that you’re passionate about – you hear people say this all the time – you’ll never work a day in your life,” Lofton said.

“No matter what, be yourself. Don’t let the crowd [or] your peers persuade you,” Moreau said. “Just always stay true to yourself. No matter what it is, just give it 100 percent effort.”

“Giving back is such a good feeling,” added Truscott. “Definitely get out in the community and get involved, and strive for excellence in sports, in school, in everything.”

The students will be headed to Canton, Ohio, in August, where the final winner will be announced.