Armstrong’s Olsen, the 2022 winner, leads candidates for Thrower Award

Thursday, March 23, 2023 | 4:46 PM

WPIAL passing leader Cadin Olsen led Armstrong football to back-to-back quarterfinal playoff appearances.

On Saturday, he is hoping for a different kind of repeat.

Olsen is one of five finalists for the Willie Thrower Award, given to the top quarterback from the WPIAL and City League.

The award winner will be revealed at a luncheon at Knead Community Cafe in New Kensington.

Olsen won last year and followed up a terrific junior season with an outstanding one as a senior.

The Penn commit passed for 3,210 yards and 43 touchdowns for the River Hawks (10-2). He finished his career with 7,819 yards.

This is the first time in the award’s three-year existence that a City League signal caller made the list of finalists.

Keyshawn Morsillo of Westinghouse also was one of the top nominees selected by a panel of coaches and media from across Western Pennsylvania. The panel nominated 31 QBs.

Morsillo led Westinghouse (14-1) to the PIAA finals for the first time in 26 years as he threw for 2,544 yards and 43 scores and rushed for 916 yards and 16 TDs.

The other finalists are Cruce Brookins of Steel Valley, Josh Jenkins of Sto-Rox and Payton Wehner of Central Catholic.

Every finalist is a senior except for Wehner, who is a junior from North Huntingdon.

Brookins led Steel Valley (12-1) to a WPIAL Class 2A championship, running for 1,716 yards and scoring 35 touchdowns. Jenkins passed for 2,431 yards and 31 TDs, and Wehner was a 2,504-yard passer who led Central (7-5) to a fourth straight WPIAL 6A final.

The winner will get a 29-pound, bronze replica of the Willie Thrower statue, which is perched just inside the front gate of Valley Memorial Stadium.

Thrower, an Alle-Kiski Valley and WPIAL giant, became the first black quarterback in the NFL in 1953 with the Chicago Bears.

“Mitts,” as he was known because of his large hands, played at Michigan State.

Thrower, as legend has it, could throw a football 70 yards.

Cole Spencer of Pine-Richland was the first recipient of the Thrower Award in 2021.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at

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