Michal Menet still remembers his last game against Gov. Mifflin.
As a senior, Menet blocked a punt and helped lead Exeter to a 35-21 comeback win over the Mustangs to give the Eagles a share of the 2015 Berks Football League Section 1 title, which they would win outright the following week with a victory over Daniel Boone in the Pig Iron Bowl.
The win was Menet’s first and only victory over Gov. Mifflin, and the section title — which came just six seasons after Exeter snapped a 21-game losing streak — was the Eagles’ first league championship in 18 years.
“We finally beat them our senior year,” Menet said about the Mustangs. “That was definitely a good way to cap it off.”
Seven years after that groundbreaking win, Menet returned to his alma mater on Friday and was placed among the all-time greats in Eagles’ history, as he was inducted into the Exeter Athletic Hall of Fame alongside fellow inductees Michael Troutman and Kyle Yocum.
“It means a ton,” Menet said on Friday. “It’s always great to be recognized for something, especially when it’s doing something you love.”
As a member of the Eagles, Menet was a four-year starter and two-year captain. He was an Under Armour All-American, a three-time All-State first-team selection and was named the Berks Offensive and Defensive Lineman of the Year as a junior and senior.
With a wealth of accomplishments, Menet was quick to give credit to all his former coaches, including Exeter head coach Matt Bauer — who served as Menet’s presenter during the induction ceremony — for helping him develop on and off the field.
“We really got to give all the credit to Coach Bauer and that staff and what they were able to do for us,” Menet said. “I love Coach Bauer, he’s a great guy.”
Now in his 14th season as head coach, Bauer said he is grateful to have coached a player like Menet.
“I’m so proud,” Bauer said. “I’m so thankful I’ve had individuals like that in my life and had the opportunity to make an impact on them.”
Menet, along with Troutman and Yocum, also were honored at halftime of the Eagles’ 35-0 win over Western York on Friday night. The entire Exeter team and coaching staff remained on the field for the ceremony instead of heading immediately to the locker room.
“We’re a family,” Bauer said about his team staying on the field at halftime. “We are very close knit, and that’s the way we want the environment. We love it when our players come back.”
One of those players on the field was senior tight end Joey Schlaffer, Menet’s half-brother. Schlaffer was also at the pregame induction ceremony, and said he was thrilled for his older brother.
“I love him to death,” Schlaffer said. “I’m so happy for him. For him to be recognized by the community that he grew up in and all the love that he got, it was a really surreal moment to be there.”
Schlaffer is committed to Penn State, where Menet played as a three-year starter at center from 2018-20. A two-time team captain, he helped the Nittany Lions score 53 points and five rushing touchdowns in a win over Memphis in the 2021 Cotton Bowl, notching a program record for points in a bowl game.
With a wealth of knowledge, Schlaffer is thankful to have Menet as a resource as he also prepares for a career at Penn State.
“There’s no one who is going to give it to you straight like your brother,” Schlaffer said. “He’s been straight as an arrow with me. I couldn’t ask for anything better in an older brother.”
While Menet said he did not try to convince Schlaffer to commit to the Nittany Lions, he said he was excited to see the Exeter to Penn State pipeline continue.
“I’m obviously super excited he’s going to go there,” Menet said. “He’s a great kid. I love him to death.”
Following his time with the Nittany Lions, Menet was selected by Arizona in the seventh round of the 2021 NFL draft. He was on the Cardinals’ practice squad from May to October 2021, when he was released.
Menet was signed to Green Bay’s practice squad in December 2021. He was waived by the Packers on Aug. 30, the final day of roster cuts ahead of the 2022 season.
“Compared to college, it’s a lot more advanced,” Menet said about the NFL. “Everybody is a star player. The overall speed of the game and the talent is pretty absurd.”
Now a free agent, Menet, 25, remains poised to earn another contract and one day play in an NFL game.
“I’m still chasing a childhood dream,” he said, “chasing a dream I’ve had since I first picked up a football. If that’s not motivating enough, I don’t know what would be.”
While he played center at Penn State, Menet split time between center and guard during his time with Arizona and Green Bay. Now training for his next opportunity, Menet said he is focusing on improving his skills at guard.
“(I’m) getting more comfortable at guard,” Menet said. “There’s a couple things at guard that I think I can still tweak and continue to improve on, (and) that’ll be my main focus.”
Now back home in Berks, Menet has had the opportunity to attend both of the Eagles’ home games this season at Don Thomas Stadium. Exeter, the defending District 3 Class 5A champions, is off to a 3-0 start.
“It’s good to be back,” Menet said. “Definitely brings back some good memories. This community has always embraced me and really supported me a lot, so it’s always good to come back and get to see everybody.”
For Schlaffer, having his older brother watching from the bleachers makes his senior season even more meaningful.
“I know he misses this more than anything,” Schlaffer said. “The community feel, it’s something that you don’t get anywhere else. He cherishes that just like I do.”
Schlaffer leads the Eagles in receiving with 10 catches for 219 yards and four touchdowns. He also has 69 rushing yards.
“It’s awesome,” Menet said about Schlaffer. “I’m obviously so proud of him.”
Whether Menet is in the stands at Don Thomas Stadium watching his younger brother and the rest of the Exeter football team, or training for his next opportunity in the NFL, Bauer is certain that all football players can learn something from Menet.
“Michal Menet can serve as a role model for anyone — any young man who ever dreams of playing football can watch the way he approaches the game,” Bauer said.
“He’s an unbelievable individual.”