Thomas Jefferson football star Nathan Werderber set to join Marines

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Friday, December 20, 2019 | 7:09 PM


Thomas Jefferson senior Nathan Werderber fulfilled a lifelong goal with his teammates in 2019.

The Jaguars won the PIAA Class 4A title Dec. 5 with a 46-7 championship-game victory over Dallas at Hersheypark Stadium.

Soon, Werderber will be tackling another longtime dream to join the military and enlist with the U.S. Marines Corps.

“It’s something that has always inspired me growing up and watching them on the news or documentaries,” Werderber said. “The news stories showed how tough Marines are and really showed Marines aren’t in it for the spotlight or money. They really care about protecting the country.

“I plan to enlist after Christmas break. I’ve wanted to join the Marines since sixth grade because I just think they’re the best. I’m not really looking for a super-long career but I am expecting to stay for a while. I know it will be challenging.”

Basic training usually takes place in San Diego or at Parris Island in South Carolina.

“Without football, I would not be prepared at all for the military because football has kept me in shape,” said Werderber, who wants to train to be part of the infantry because they are “the men who serve on the front lines, pretty much.”

“I will become a poolee in the Marines until I am officially shipped out for boot camp, which could be anywhere from late August to early November,” he said.

TJ football coach Bill Cherpak offered the highest of praise for Werderber, a two-year starter who he said exhibits high-level integrity and grit.

“Nate is an incredible young man,” Cherpak said. “He is self-motivated and always gives 100% to everything he does. We have had others enter the military after playing football at TJ. I am extremely proud of him and support his decision to enter the Marines.

“He certainly could play college football if he wanted, but his desire has always been to enter the military. He is mentally and physically tough and will be an excellent Marine.”

The 6-foot, 200-pound Werderber played an integral role on the PIAA and WPIAL champion TJ football team in 2019.

“Winning the state championship was a dream come true, something I’ve been thinking about since I started playing football,” Werderber said. “The best way I could describe playing (at Hersheypark Stadium) was like living in a movie. The night was incredible, better than I could imagine, and it’s still awesome with people coming up to me outside of school and telling me we had an awesome season and all that.”

Werderber was the lead blocker for seniors Dylan Mallozzi, a 5-11, 185-pound running back, and Shane Stump, a 6-1, 205-pound quarterback, in the Jaguars’ offensive backfield.

Mallozzi and Stump combined for 2,306 yards and 41 touchdowns on the ground this season, with Mallozzi rushing for a team-high 1,760 yards and 28 scores on 219 carries.

Werderber also manned a critical position on defense, as he and sophomore Isaac Eckley started at inside linebacker between junior OLBs Preston Zandier and Bowen Dame.

Werderber led the Jaguars in tackles with 51 unassisted and 16 assisted and also recovered two fumbles.

He was named first-team all-conference at linebacker and second-team at running back and was one of six TJ gridders lauded on both sides of the ball.

The Jaguars finished 16-0 after experiencing a one-loss season in 2018.

Werderber and his senior teammates did not lose at home in their football careers, going 19-0 at TJ Stadium over the past three years.

“Nate has been an invaluable part of our success,” Cherpak said. “He is a leader on and off the field and a great representative of our program. He is exactly the type of young man that makes coaching rewarding.”

Werderber’s grandfather, James, was in the Army in the mid-1950s, then became a police officer. His father, Mark, graduated in 1982 from Oliver, where he participated in City League football. Mark is employed as a manager at BAW Plastics.

Werderber, whose mother’s name is Michele, has one brother, Nick, 15, and one sister, Marlana, 19, who are athletically inclined.

Marlana competed in volleyball in high school and currently is a second-year nursing student at Duquesne. Nick is a sophomore point guard at TJ.

Nathan, who owns a 3.2 GPA and also was an all-conferece selection as a junior, said his favorite subject in school is history.

“I find history the most interesting,” he said, “and that is what I’m best at.”

The Jaguars certainly marched on a historic football path in 2019.

“We brought the state championship trophy back for the first time since 2008,” Werderber said. “This was something we have been dreaming about since we were all kids.

“I would describe my career here a success. I’ll miss all my friends and all the good memories we share, like hanging out after summer workouts, or going to eat after practice, or celebrating a win after the game, and, you know, playing every Friday night. We consider ourselves a family.”

The tough and aggressive Werderber will be joining a new family in the not-too-distant future.

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