2022 Trib HSSN Preseason Football All-Star Team: Penn Hills’ Julian Dugger
Monday, July 4, 2022 | 6:28 PM
Editor’s note: The Tribune-Review and the TribLive High School Sports Network are profiling each member of the 25-player Trib HSSN Preseason Football All-Star team. The players will be recognized July 15 during HSSN Media Day at Kennywood Park.
Camp is still weeks away, but Penn Hills quarterback Julian Dugger is already confident his passing skills are way ahead of where they were last summer.
A year ago, he broke his leg in basketball season and wasn’t fully healed until July. He quickly worked himself into football shape and earned the team’s starting quarterback job as a sophomore, but missing the entire spring and some of the summer has an impact on a young quarterback.
“If I would have had an offseason, I would have been able to do a lot better last year,” said Dugger, who still passed for more than 1,300 yards and led the Indians to the WPIAL Class 5A semifinals. “Last summer, I really didn’t really get to have an offseason. This year, I’ve been working a lot more.”
Now a junior and fully healthy, the 6-foot-3, 195-pounder has quarterbacked the Indians in multiple 7-on-7 events this summer, including tournaments at Pitt and Saint Vincent.
Colleges already have taken notice. He received offers in May from Pitt, Toledo and UMass.
“Best way to describe him really is ‘it.’ He has ‘it,’ ” Penn Hills coach Charles Morris said. “His understanding of the game. He is a competitor. His confidence.”
The three-sport athlete broke his leg on a dunk in February 2021, starting a six-month rehab. Dugger returned to the football field last fall and passed for 1,306 yards and 20 touchdowns. He also rushed for 651 yards and 11 TDs as Penn Hills went 8-4 and finished in a three-way tie atop the Northeast Conference.
Dugger seems poised for a big junior year but said he is not chasing any statistical goals.
“I want to win,” he said. “That’s my main goal, to win.”
In the winter, 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 championship with a leap of 21 feet, 5 inches, earning a spot at states.
Now, he’s back to football, this time with a full summer to prepare.
Penn Hills has a new football coach this season with Morris replacing Jon LeDonne, now at Pine-Richland. The roster also has changed some. Among the top players who graduated was Julian Dugger’s older brother Jaden, now a wide receiver at Georgetown.
Yet, Dugger said he enters this fall with a sense of ease.
“I feel more comfortable, even on my own team,” he said. “I feel like more of a leader. I was a leader last year, but now I’m an upperclassman. I’m one of the older people on the team. It feels a lot more comfortable and I’m in control.”
Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .
Tags: Penn Hills
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