By Bob Balgemann, REPORTER

 A.J. Wentland was one of the standouts on Harlem’s 2012 Varsity Football Team. From there he agreed to continue playing at the next level by committing to McKendree University in Lebanon, near St. Louis. That has turned out to be a winning partnership with A.J. closing out his Senior year by setting a couple of records on defense.  He’s a linebacker and this year he continued a habit of breaking the school record for tackles in a season, which he broke in 2014 and then re-established in 2015. A four-year varsity performer, he amassed 135 tackles in 2014 and has 145 so far this season. That’s more than twice as many as the team’s No. Two tackler, who has 65. In addition, he’s currently the new owner of the Bearcats’ career record for tackles, with 420. But that remains a work in progress. There was one regular season game remaining, plus the possibility of a postseason appearance. “We are very proud of A.J.,” said his Harlem Coach, James Morrow. “It has always been great seeing him at home every summer and working out in the stadium in preparation for each season. He goes about his business the right way. His ability, his work ethic and attention to detail make him the special football player he has grown to be.” A.J. worked for a time at Harlem Community Center, whose sports complex off Forest Hills Road has been named for his grandfather, Stan Wentland.

Here are a few offensive and defensive highlights from the fall of 2012, his final season as a Huskie. In a NIC-10 win over Jefferson, on Senior Night, he recovered a bad punt snap late in the second quarter that set up a Harlem touchdown. Later, he caught a 61-yard pass from quarterback Justin Van Wambeke to spark a drive that led to Harlem’s fifth touchdown of the night. Auburn took an early 22-7 win that season only to see the Huskies rally to win, 36-28. Wentland caught a fourth down, 18-yard touchdown pass from Van Wambeke to cement that victory. Also in that game he tipped a Knight pass into the arms of teammate Zach DeCampa, for an interception.

Former Harlem linebacker A.J. Wentland brings down a Boylan player back in 2012

Former Harlem linebacker A.J. Wentland brings down a Boylan player back in 2012

The week before he recovered a fumble to thwart a Belvidere scoring drive at the Harlem 10-yard line. The Huskies also won that game while going 7-2 in the conference and 7-3 overall.


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