The date is Oct. 25, 2013. The Smethport Hubbers made the drive to Ridgway to take on Ridgway/Johnsonburg in an Allegheny Mountain League game.
Starting at quarterback for the Elkers is Division I baseball prospect Ben MacDonald, while the Hubers have themselves a terror on the opposing side as fullback and linebacker Ryan Stratton is ready to add to his already impressive tackle total on the season.
The game proved to be a true mud bowl, and Ridgway came out on top by a score of 8-0. MacDonald was able to find paydirt for the game’s only touchdown, but the Elkers could not keep Stratton off of their ball carriers as he racked up 17 total tackles on the night to go with 66 yards as a ball carrier on 11 carries. Stratton certainly did his part to help the Hubbers stay competitive in the game, and it was games like these that allowed college coaches to understand the ability he had on the gridiron.
After graduating from Smethport in 2014, Stratton decided to head to Geneva College to continue his academic and athletic career, but it didn’t take him long to figure out that attending Geneva to become an engineer while playing football was not in his best interest.
He decided to transfer to Edinboro to play football at the Division II level while also changing his major to math education and special education. The move made all the difference in his football career and in even in his spiritual life.
“I really found the Lord after going to college,” Stratton said. “I admit that I was not making the best choices as an adolescent, but once I found God, I realized I was created for a purpose which is to extend his love for everyone who is around me.”
After not playing in varsity action as a freshman at Geneva, Stratton went to Edinboro and immediately began making an impact both as a football player, and more importantly as a person. He played in eleven games in his first year for the Fighting Scots, making four starts at linebacker.
While his career on defense looked promising for the future, Stratton was asked to move to tight end the next season. He again appeared in all eleven games, starting in three of those. He also continued to impress on special teams because of his great awareness and nose for the ball.
In his last college season, Stratton again appeared in all eleven games and recorded his first collegiate touchdown in his last career football game on a seven yard reception against Cheyney.
While Stratton knew his role on the football field, his role off the field is where the former Hubber truly stood out amongst the rest. Stratton became known for his charitable work both at Edinboro University and even in the local community.
In 2017, he was one of 147 nominees for the 2017 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team. He was nominated because of his work with the “12th Man” — a program designed to honor children with life threatening illnesses and disabilities as honorary members of the Fighting Scots football team.
Stratton also organized a banquet for all of the children they honored throughout the season.
His work earned him the 2017 inaugural Dr. Joseph Laythe Award because of his mission to help others both in his college community and also in the local community. To Stratton, it never mattered how many touches he got, snaps he played, or if he made the biggest plays in the biggest moments; to him, it was about using his platform to give to others while also showing his strong faith in the process.
While Stratton has certainly done great good in the Edinboro community, his service for others extends beyond work in the community. Recently, he began his career in the military after spending the last few years in ROTC at Edinboro.
When asking Stratton provided his perspective on managing his busy lifestyle in college and now as a member of the armed forces.
“I try to dedicate time every morning to read the Bible because He is the one who will help me get through the day and is giving me the strength to be who I am,” Stratton said. “I also only have one social media platform and I choose not to watch television. This extra time allowed me to stay on track during college and now helps me in the military.”
Stratton certainly is a disciplined person who loves to live in the present.
“I would rather sit down and have a good conversation than use my time to be on my phone. I think people spend too much time on their phones instead of being present, so I try to limit my time with technology and really focus on spending time with whoever is around me.”
While Stratton’s career in sports is filled with accolades like Smethport Area High School Male Athlete of the Year, two Big 30 All-Star selections in football, a Big 30 selection in baseball, a Big 30 game representative in football, and a North Tier League All-Star selection in basketball, none of the accolades compare to what Stratton has done for the Edinboro community and the country.