NFA’s Barnhill, Wallkill’s Sweeney up for Heart of a Giant Award

Newburgh Free Academy running back Justin Barnhill and Wallkill receiver Brandon Sweeney are among the 10 nominees for the Heart of a Giant award this week.

After Barnhill’s house was lost to a fire about a year ago, his family moved to Fishkill. Barnhill rode a bike across the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge to football practice.

“Whether it’s on the field or in the gym, it (football) provided me with a second family, a team that relies on me to do my job and get it done just like I do them,” Barnhill said.

Sweeney overcame his parents getting a divorce with the help of his team. He’s one of the first players at school and one of the last to leave after hitting the weight room.

“Brandon plays with heart on every play, one thing that does not stop him is fatigue, he believes that if his body is tired it’s all mentally, if you mentally can push harder and keep doing it for the brothers beside you then you can stay in that game and keep giving your all no matter how tired or hurt’” Wallkill coach Brian Vegliando said.

Voting for the award continues through October 27 at

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