Chase Whatton set to power Elizabeth Forward attack

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Sunday, September 6, 2020 | 11:15 PM


While he can’t quite predict the future, Chase Whatton has a promise for Elizabeth Forward football fans.

“Our 2020 season is going to be one to remember,” he said. “We have insane athletes. We’re very strong. A lot of our players dedicated themselves to the weight room during quarantine. We may not be the biggest team, but we will be the most physical and strongest. I say that with no doubts.”

Fair enough.

An all-state defensive end, the 6-foot-4, 235-pound Whatton began the summer of his senior season with more than 30 Division I offers to play at the college level, and his work ethic has rubbed off on his teammates.

The Warriors will follow his lead.

“He is going to get so much attention on both sides of the football,” Warriors coach Mike Collodi said. “He is a leader. He’s going to do a lot for us.”

Whatton will be a tight end and H-back on offense and will once again look to wreak havoc at defensive end for Elizabeth Forward, which moves into the new-look Class 3A Interstate Conference after finishing 7-3 (6-3 Big East) and falling to Aliquippa in the playoffs.

The Warriors led the Big East in points allowed at just 12.3 a game. They posted two shutouts and allowed single digits in two other games.

Whatton had 69 tackles, 29 for loss, plus 12 sacks, five blocked punts and five forced fumbles.

“This is year six for me and I have always preached that we play fast and physical,” Collodi said. “That’s the way it’s been. I’m a defensive-minded coach; that’s what I played in college (at Muskingum). My coaches joke with me and say I favor the defense.”

Senior Evan Lewis will be a fourth-year starter. Collodi calls him the quarterback of the defense.

Senior Nico Mrvos will again handle the quarterback duties after playing eight games under center as a junior and throwing for 575 yards while also leading the team in rushing with 497 yards. He is expected to draw some college attention as well.

“Nico is electric … so athletic,” Collodi said.

Lewis also played quarterback last year and threw for 334 yards while rushing for 415 and six touchdowns.

Another up-and-coming talent is Zach Boyd, a sophomore who intercepted five passes and returned two for touchdowns as a freshman.

A pair of linemen to keep an eye on are junior Nick Murphy (6-3, 280) and senior Jared Prah.

Collodi said Kyle Flournoy is another candidate to carry the ball and share attempts with Lewis.

Junior Davontay Brownfield returns at linebacker after making a team-high 92 tackles.

Mrvos also intercepted five passes in the secondary.

The coach would not commit to an offensive slant for the Warriors — run over pass.

“We’re going to try to be balanced,” he said.

Kicker and punter Andrew Smith, one of the better legs in Class 3A, will be a senior and a valuable weapon.

“He’s a four-year starter,” Collodi said. “I hate to see him go. We put a lot of emphasis on special teams. A lot of coaches take that part of the game for granted.”

Schedule

Coach: Mike Collodi

2019 record: 7-3, 6-2 in Class 3A Big East

All-time record: 411-499-36

Date, Opponent, Time

9.18, Brownsville*, 7

9.25, at Beth-Center, 7

10.2, at South Park*, 7

10.9, South Allegheny*, 7

10.16, at Mt. Pleasant*, 7

10.23, Southmoreland*, 7

*Class 3A Interstate Conference game

Statistical leaders

Passing: Nico Mrvos

34-92, 575 yards, 9 TDs

Receiving: Chase Whatton

20-296 yards, 5 TDs

Rushing: Nico Mrvos

78-497 yards, 1 TD

Fast facts

• Elizabeth Forward will play against South Park in the new-look Interstate Conference. Coach Mike Collodi has been a physical education teacher at South Park for 13 years.

• A 12.3 points-allowed average in 2019 ranked third in Class 3A behind Aliquippa (9.6) and Central Valley (11.2).

• EF started offseason workouts earlier than a lot of teams. The program was six weeks into workouts by the end of July.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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