Gustave, LeDonne represent Penn Hills at East-West all-star game

Thursday, May 9, 2019 | 7:14 PM

This year, Penn Hills brought its first PIAA football title since 1995 back to the community.

The accolades for the team are still coming through, with the latest being two members of the state champion team being part of the 18th annual PSFCA Big 33 East/West game May 5 at Mansion Park Stadium in Altoona.

Senior defensive end Armand Gustave and head coach Jon LeDonne represented the Indians in the historic all-star game.

Gustave, a Robert Morris recruit, finished with nine tackles, including four sacks, for the West in a 41-35 win over the East.

“I tried to look at it as another game, even though it’s an all-star game. You are playing with a whole bunch of all-stars,” Gustave said.

“It was an opportunity to play another game of football. I love the game of football so why not play another game.”

At the beginning of the season, Gustave wasn’t in the starting lineup. However, he continued to work hard and finished his senior season with 80 tackles and 12 sacks.

Before the first practice for the all-star game, there was some confusion by the West head coach, Clarion’s Larry Wiser, if the 6-foot-1, 180-pound lineman actually should be with the defensive backs.

LeDonne reassured Wiser that Gustave belonged. The undersized lineman didn’t disappoint the West coaching staff as Wiser eventually apologized to LeDonne for the mistake and acknowledged the strong impression Gustave left after the first practice.

“I love getting underestimated. I love proving myself and proving it to everybody else. You only have to prove it to yourself more than everything,” Gustave said.

Since the end of the title run, Gustave has been back in his family home’s basement working out and getting himself ready for June when he heads off to Robert Morris.

However, Gustave cherished the opportunity to get some live action again as he got to work on his craft in practices that occurred in the weeks leading up to the all-star game.

Gustave was appreciative of the insight provided by fellow teammates, including Pine-Richland linebacker Anthony Cerminara.

“My competition at practice helped me out a lot. You don’t get to see those big linemen that are that skilled and that good everyday,” Gustave said.

As Gustave had an opportunity to play one final high school football game, LeDonne got to represent the Penn Hills coaching staff, guiding the defense for the West team.

“It’s an honor to be nominated and selected for the East/West game. It shows that your peers appreciate and respect what you do,” LeDonne said.

“I’m being recognized for the work that I put in on behalf of what my coaching staff and players were able to accomplish.”

The all-star game selection for LeDonne was a first for him both as a player and a coach. Even though he would’ve liked it if he was selected as a player, LeDonne found it sweeter to be selected as a coach.

“To be a part of it as a coach with the impact you have on young kids is very special,” LeDonne said.

LeDonne was joined by Seneca Valley’s Ron Butschle as coaches who represented the WPIAL in the all-star game.

With having LeDonne coaching the defense, Gustave felt like he was just at home with the defense being called in the game.

“Everything felt like I had my fellas right with me. It was a good experience,” Gustave said.

“We were running the same defense with different guys. It was same stuff I was doing all year. It taught me a lot with how to have fun with it.”


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