Smethport High Graduate Ryan Stratton Starts “12th Man” Program at Edinboro

Bradford Era — by Pete Sirianni

Tough. Strong. Warriors. Those words are often used to describe soldiers and athletes – especially football players – as the lexicon of sports-speak more and more blurs the line between competitor and armed combatant.

For Edinboro University junior tight end and 2014 Smethport High graduate Ryan Stratton, those words mean more to him than just a description of a college football player. In fact, they describe some who may never find their way to collegiate athletics, let alone a sports field in general.

Stratton, a math and special education dual-major, this fall started a 12th Man program which brought the Fighting Scots to an individual with an intellectual disability or a person with cancer or who had cancer and is in remission. That individual was then invited to Edinboro’s Friday-night team meetings and to stand on the sidelines with their families during Edinboro games, shaking hands with players and cheering them on during a season which saw first-year head coach Justin Lustig lead the team to the biggest turnaround in NCAA Division II history. Read More