BRONXVILLE, N.Y. -- Bronxville High School football standout Steven Ircha focused his eyes on the prize at a very young age. After the senior committed to the University of Pennsylvania and earned acceptance into the school’s prestigious Wharton School of Business, he knew all the self-sacrifice was worth it.
“I knew for a long time that I wanted to study business,’’ said Ircha, whose father, also named Steven, is a wealth advisor in Bronxville. “Wharton was my top choice. And I love the football team at Penn. It’s the best of both worlds. They provide a great education in the business field and it’s a great football team.”
The Quakers and incoming coach Ray Priore landed one of the top players in New York with Ircha’s commitment. The 6-foot, 3-inch Ircha was a four-year two-way starter for the Broncos. He earned first-team All-State honors as a senior, and won the school’s Phil Kuczma Award for the player who best embodies pride, sacrifice, desire and best defensive presence in game situations. Last week, he was honored by the Westchester Chapter of the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame as one of the “Golden Dozen.” Click here to see Ircha's profile on MaxPreps.
He will join a traditionally strong Penn program that finished 2-8 last year and 2-5 in the Ivy League. The Quakers have won 16 league championships, including three in a four-year stretch from 2009-2012. Al Bagnoli stepped down after the season after 23 years and was replaced by Priore, his longtime assistant.
“Coach Priore has been handling a lot of the duties of the head coach, so I’m not too concerned about the transition,’’ said Ircha, who also considered Cornell, Princeton and Army. “They were the first school to visit me in my junior years. They treated me with a lot of respect.”
Ircha said Penn coaches figure him to play outside linebacker, where he’ll get an opportunity to chase quarterbacks. “I’ll be rushing the passer and controlling the edge,’’ said Ircha, who played primarily as a lineman for the Broncos. “That’s what I like to do.”
Besides an outstanding football player, Penn is also getting an outstanding student and community volunteer. Ircha achieved high honors in every quarter at Bronxville, where he was a National Merit Scholar Commended student and recipient of the Rhodes College and Sage College Book Awards. He also won a Leadership in the Classroom Award.
Ircha was also a high achiever in the community, where he worked his way to become an Eagle Scout. He also ran a Toys for Tots in Bronxville for the past four years.
Ircha, who also is an outstanding track and field athlete in the shot put and hurdles, said he balanced his activities while staying focused on the ultimate goal. “The thing I pride myself on was not being distracted,’’ he said. “A lot of people would lose their way throughout their high school career. I stayed true to myself. I think that’s what helped me be successful.”
For his Eagle Scout project, Ircha and eight friends traveled to a religious retreat in the Pocono Mountain region of Pennsylvania to restore bungalows that were falling into disrepair. Ircha and his buddies restored six of the them, taking care of everything from painting to carpentry work. “I have a newfound respect for painters,’’ Ircha said. “That was a lot of work. But we all ate like kings I was with a lot of my high school buddies.”
Ircha also interned with the New York Jets for the past three summers, focusing on media relations, college scouting and professional scouting and operations. His uncle, Woody Johnson, owns the team.
It is not inconceivable Ircha could one day be drafted by his uncle’s teams. Penn has had a history of alums who have gone on to NFL careers.
“Everything about the school felt right,’’ Ircha said. “I think it’s going to be the perfect place for me.”
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