2022 HSSN football position-by-position breakdown: Scouting the quarterbacks

Tuesday, August 16, 2022 | 1:10 AM

The race for the 2021 WPIAL passing title was a three-way battle between Gateway’s Brad Birch, Beaver Falls’ Jaren Brickner and Armstrong’s Cadin Olsen.

This year’s race might look very similar.

All three quarterbacks passed for more than 2,500 yards a year ago and all three return this fall. Combined, they attempted 816 passes, totaled more than 7,700 yards and tossed 83 touchdowns last season.

It’s no secret that passing yards are on the rise. Combined, the WPIAL and City League saw more than 50 players throw for at least 1,000 yards last season.

TribLive HSSN will break down the top players at one position per day until Week Zero. Here’s a look at the top quarterbacks for the 2022 season.

1. Cadin Olsen


Senior, 6-5, 220

Olsen is committed to Penn. He completed 65% of his pass attempts (189 of 290) for 2,501 yards, 28 TDs and 11 INTs last season while leading the River Hawks to the WPIAL Class 4A quarterfinals. Six times he threw for three or more touchdowns in a game. He was always considered a good passer and finished third in the WPIAL in passing yards, but added another element to his game when he emerged last season as a true dual-threat quarterback. Olsen rushed for a team-high 830 yards on 150 carries and scored 16 TDs. He had four 100-yard rushing games, including a 21-carry, 131-yard, three-touchdown game against Plum.

Watch Cadin Olsen highlights

2. Brad Birch


Junior, 6-2, 180

Birch finished last season as the leading passer in the WPIAL with 2,623 yards. He completed 62% of his throws (141 of 229) and tossed 30 touchdowns to 12 interceptions. Birch received an offer from Akron coach Joe Moorhead in December. Previously, Moorhead had given Birch an Oregon offer as offensive coordinator for the Ducks. The 2021 season was Birch’s first with Gateway after leading Jeannette to a WPIAL Class A title his freshman year. As a sophomore, he helped the Gators reach the WPIAL 5A playoffs. He threw three or more TDs in eight games. He rushed for 272 yards last season, a total that could rise this year.

Watch Brad Birch highlights

3. Julian Dugger

Penn Hills

Junior, 6-3, 195

Dugger lists Division I offers from Pitt, Toledo and UMass. The multi-sport athlete bounced back from a broken leg from basketball season to pass for 1,306 yards, 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions last season. He completed 53% of his passes (92 of 173). Dugger also rushed for 651 yards and 11 TDs as the Indians tied for the conference title and reached the WPIAL Class 5A semifinals. As a sophomore, Dugger was a starting guard for a 20-8 basketball team that reached the WPIAL and PIAA quarterfinals. In the spring, he placed third in the long jump at the WPIAL meet with a leap of 21 feet, 5 inches.

Watch Julian Dugger highlights

4. Josh Jenkins


Senior, 6-2, 180

Jenkins passed for 1,471 yards last season despite starting the year as a part-time quarterback. He saw time at wide receiver and caught two touchdowns in the season opener, but settled back into the QB role as the Vikings headed toward the playoffs. He completed almost 70% of his passes (66 of 95) and threw 21 touchdowns as the Vikings reached the WPIAL Class 2A semifinals. Jenkins passed for more than 400 yards in a quarterfinal win over Mohawk. He received his first Division I offer in July from Virginia Military Institute. He also topped 1,400 passing yards as a sophomore.

Watch Josh Jenkins highlights

5. Jaren Brickner

Beaver Falls

Senior, 6-1, 185

Brickner already broke the career passing record at Beaver Falls, an impressive achievement for a storied program that once produced NFL legend Joe Namath. Brickner ranked second among all WPIAL quarterbacks last season with 2,569 yards. He completed 53% of his throws (136 of 257) and tossed 25 touchdowns to 14 interceptions. He also rushed for 480 yards and eight TDs. He helped the Tigers win a WPIAL Class 2A title in 2020 and led them back to the WPIAL finals in 2021.

Watch Jaren Brickner highlights

One to watch

Keyshawn Morsillo


Senior, 6-3, 190

Morsillo’s name might be unfamiliar to many high school football fans in Western Pennsylvania, but the quarterback is well known in the city. He was the top passer in the City League last season when he threw for 1,511 yards and 17 touchdowns. The dual-threat QB also rushed for 868 yards and 16 TDs as the Bulldogs reached the City League finals. In the state playoffs, he passed for 248 yards, added 99 yards on the ground and scored four rushing TDs to defeat Windber, 35-34.

Watch Keyshawn Morsillo highlights

• • • • •

Position breakdowns

QB | RB | WR | TE | OL | DL | LB | CB | S | K

Top five coaching changes for 2022

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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