First-year quarterbacks learning the ropes, making plays in Westmoreland County

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Thursday, September 23, 2021 | 10:01 AM


Playing quarterback at the varsity level always intrigued Anthony Govern, but the senior at Southmoreland is finding out for himself just how the position works, how important it is and how enjoyable it can be — especially when the Scotties are winning.

“I love it. This is the most fun I have had in a very long time,” said Govern, a dual threat who has passed for 575 yards and six touchdowns and has 273 rushing yards and nine TDs.

He is having so much fun he even threw a few blocks to spur his teammates to larger gains.

Southmoreland is 3-1, 1-0 as it visits Mt. Pleasant (2-2, 0-0) Friday night in a Class 3A Interstate Conference matchup. The Scotties are ranked No. 4 in 3A.

Govern is one of several first-year quarterbacks playing for Westmoreland County teams this season.

Learning offensive schemes and assuming greater leadership responsibilities are all part of the transition to playing the lead role, and the newcomers are progressing.

Others include Hempfield junior Jake Phillips, Norwin senior Luke Levendosky, Penn-Trafford senior Carter Green and sophomore Lorenzo Gardner at Monessen.

Levendosky said his new role has been enjoyable, even though Norwin plays a treacherous Class 6A schedule.

The Knights (2-2, 0-1) lost to Central Catholic, 50-0.

“Learning some of my newer receivers and trusting them is a great process,” Levendosky said. “I want to continue to build on that. I wouldn’t consider it just me leading the offense because we have tons of leaders on the field, so it is nice knowing I can lean on a teammate when a play doesn’t go as planned.

“The biggest challenge I’ve experienced is understanding that you can run a play the right way, and it still sometimes doesn’t go well.”

Phillips is playing with confidence in his first year as a starter.

“Honestly, I feel like leading the offense has come pretty easy to me,” he said. “Each week I have picked up something new about the position, whether it’s having faith in my line and keeping my composure in the pocket or timing with my receivers. The biggest challenge for me has been getting used to the new playbook.

“I have definitely enjoyed the constant competition that coach (Mike) Brown brings to practice every day the most.”

Although he did not play last week, junior Tyler Reese is a rookie QB at Mt. Pleasant, and Jeannette started senior Tyler Horn last week in its first win of the season.

Penn-Trafford (2-2), keen on developing its passing game to complement the run, has dabbled with using two QBs, as junior Tommy Kalkstein has played some behind Green.

Govern can run the ball with power, but he also can sling it, casting lines to receivers such as Isaac Trout and Josh Bass.

“The biggest challenge has really been learning so many things in a very short amount of time,” Govern said. “But I feel that we have done very well as a team. I love the atmosphere not only in the locker room or on the field, but also in the way the community is coming together and supporting us.

“It really helps us get motivated and stay motivated.”

Other local teams have been feeling out their quarterback situation early on. Take Franklin Regional (1-3), which has tried four players under center this season. Coach Lance Getsy said senior Connor Donnelly will start Friday against Bethel Park as the team apparently settles on one signal caller.

Juniors Roman Sarnic and Logan Donnelly also have competed for the top spot for the Panthers. Sarnic has rotated and often shared snaps with Connor Donnelly.

The team also has used dynamic senior Caden Smith in the wildcat and let him throw the ball — with success.

Connor Donnelly, Sarnic and Smith have led touchdown drives.

“We weren’t always trying to rotate,” Getsy said. “Some games, it was dictated by injury. Now, we need QBs to help in other positions, so we are making decisions on what helps the team as a whole.

“The rotating went OK. Both offered something different, and it was a chance to get guys experience in case we ever need them in an emergency. But now we plan on rolling with one.”

Greensburg Central Catholic (3-1, 1-0) has been starting junior Nate Dlugos, and he has been effective. But new coach Marko Thomas made a switch in the second half two weeks ago at Apollo-Ridge to spark the offense, putting sophomore Tyree Turner in at QB.

Phillips has thrown for nearly 500 yards for Hempfield (2-2, 0-1), and Levendosky has accounted for nearly 400 through four weeks for Norwin.

Levendosky led a winning drive against Latrobe, which has been a highlight for the Knights.

Green scored on a 99-yard run on Penn-Trafford’s first play from scrimmage at Norwin in Week Zero. He has five rushing touchdowns as a complementary runner to senior Cade Yacamelli.

Talk about Gardner points. Led by Gardner, Monessen (2-2, 1-0) put up 50 last week against Bentworth for its second straight win. The Greyhounds have only 23 players, but they’re glad Gardner is one of them. He is a 6-foot-3, 185-pound sophomore.

“I’ve been very impressed with his growth,” Monessen coach Wade Brown said. “Game by game, he has gotten better. We’re looking for him to stay on the upswing.”

Gardner completed 8 of 15 passes for 230 yards last Friday.

Jeannette coach Roy Hall said Horn is like having another coach on the field for the Jayhawks (1-3, 1-0). Horn threw for two touchdowns, ran for another and returned an interception for a score in a 28-6 win over Riverview to avoid its first 0-4 start in 28 years.

“This is the best game I’ve ever played in my life,” Horn said after last week’s win.

Sophomore Payton Molter had been starting for the Jayhawks.

Greensburg Salem senior Hayden Teska is not a first-year starter and came in with some varsity experience, but he is building some serious momentum after injuries put him on the shelf last season. He has thrown for 909 yards (46 of 94) and nine touchdowns and is the top passer in the WPIAL.

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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