2023 Trib HSSN Preseason Football All-Star Team: Union’s Braylon Thomas

Thursday, July 13, 2023 | 6:43 PM

In 2021, Union finished 4-6 and in fifth place in the Big 7 Conference, missing out on the WPIAL Class A football playoffs.

Last fall, recent Scotties success in basketball, baseball and softball must have rubbed off on the football team as No. 10-seeded Union stunned the district with upsets of Burgettstown, Laurel, Rochester and defending champion Bishop Canevin to earn its second district crown and first in more than six decades.

“It was very fun, and I loved every minute of it,” Union quarterback Braylon Thomas said. “It was great to have the community by our side and having the best teammates to do it with.”

Now, the Scotties prepare for a new season with a different feeling than past years.

“Yes, we know we have a target on our heads,” Thomas said.

The senior quarterback is looking to improve following a strong junior season.

“I think the biggest improvement will be that this is his second year as a starting quarterback,” Union coach Kim Niedbala said. “With repetition and leadership, hopefully this will take him to the next step.”

As a junior in 2022, Thomas topped 1,000 yards in both rushing and passing in helping the Scotties win WPIAL football gold for the first time in 63 years.

“I’m trying to become a better passer and throw fewer interceptions,” Thomas said as he prepares for his second year as Scotties starting quarterback. “I’m trying to make better reads and step up in the pocket more.”

In the WPIAL championship game against top-seeded Bishop Canevin, Thomas was 8 of 15 passing for 80 yards but came up big on the ground, rushing for 123 yards on 25 carries and scoring the Scotties’ first two touchdowns on an 8-yard run in the first quarter and a 38-yard run in the third quarter as the Scotties blanked the Crusaders, 26-0.

As a quarterback, cornerback and punter, Thomas is looking to lead the way in all three phases of the game for Union.

“My expectation for Braylon is to lead his senior season and do what is asked of him,” Niedbala said. “As far as the team, our goal is to make playoffs for a second consecutive season.”

While the bull’s-eye for the Scotties is something new this season, Thomas, for one, is champing at the bit to begin the team’s title defense starting next month.

“I have a lot of things to work out as a quarterback and a leader for the upcoming season,” Thomas said. “I’m counting down the days. Can’t wait.”

Braylon Thomas





College offers: N/A

2022 statistics: Rushed 252 times for 1,466 yards and 20 touchdowns while passing for 1,202 yards and 14 scores


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