Dan Persa had many great moments during his football career at Bethlehem Liberty High School, but coach Tim Moncman puts Persa’s performance in the PIAA Class AAAA semifinals against Pennsbury right at the top.
Liberty won the game 45-38 in quadruple overtime as Persa played both ways, quarterback on offense, safety on defense. He ran or passed the ball on 55 of Liberty’s 65 offensive plays and accounted for five touchdowns (two rushing, three passing). He also had a team-high 12 tackles on defense.
“Danny totally took over that game,” Moncman told Michael Blouse of the Easton Express-News. “He basically said, ‘We will not lose this game.’ Every time we needed a play, he made one.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Not only is Danny a great football player, he’s a great human being. Personally, I’ve seen a lot of great kids go through and play in the Lehigh Valley and I’ll go against anyone in debating Dan as the best high school football player to come along.”
The numbers certainly support Moncman’s argument. The 6-1, 205-pound Persa was 42-9 as a starting quarterback at Liberty and led the Hurricanes to the state title game each of the past two seasons. In 2006, he became the first player in Pennsylvania high school history to pass for more than 2,000 yards and rush for more than 1,000 yards in the same season.
“My joke around here all the time is that we will all see how good a coach I am when Dan leaves,” Moncman said. “He’s done everything for us. Dan is the type of student athlete that comes along once in a lifetime for a coach and I can honestly say that I will never see another one like him again.”
“Obviously, it was a very special four years,” Persa said. “Probably what I’ll remember most are the friends I made, playing with my teammates and working with my coaches. And the winning felt real good, too. Our class left a great legacy.”
Persa excels in basketball and track as well as football and he is also a leader in the classroom. He currently ranks in the top four percent of his class with a grade point average of 4.3 on a 4-point system due to his weighted classes in the honors program. He has been on the Honor Roll every semester and he will attend Northwestern University in the fall.
Persa also serves as a Special Olympics volunteer, a volunteer in the elementary school reading program and assists in coaching youth football and basketball.
“Forty-eight hours after a very disappointing loss in the PIAA championship game, Dan led a group of his football teammates to a local elementary school to conduct a reading program,” Liberty High School principal Dean Donaher recalled. “Even though the team was feeling down, Dan made sure he and his teammates read to the elementary school students. The joy Dan and his teammates brought to the students of the Lincoln Elementary School that day was immeasurable.
“To me, that epitomizes Dan Persa. The consummate team player, placing the benefits of others before his own interest, doing whatever is necessary to get the job done. As the parent of a 10-year-old boy who is the ball boy for the football team, I see the joy in my son’s eyes when he tells people he ‘knows’ Dan Persa. Everyone who comes in contact with Dan feels they know him and that’s because he makes you feel that way.
“If my son grows up to be like Dan Persa, I could not ask for more.”
Winner: Jim Henry Award – 2006 Liberty High School