Hempfield’s Remaley looks to build on last season’s spot starts under center

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Tuesday, August 14, 2018 | 7:12 PM


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Blake Remaley played defensive end in youth football, mainly because he was bigger than everyone else.

“Definitely taller,” the Hempfield junior said. “I put on like 60 pounds, but it wasn’t until (the high school level).”

His role also grew exponentially as he transitioned up the football ladder.

“When I was 7, our quarterback got hurt,” he said. “My dad told me to get in there and play QB.”

Now, Remaley gets his chance to lead the high school team at the position everybody wants to play. The 6-foot-1, 210-pound quarterback takes over for graduated standout Justin Sliwoski, a 1,600-yard passer who is now a walk-on at Pitt.

Remaley went from expecting garbage-time snaps to playing in three games last season when Sliwoski went down with a shoulder injury. Remaley came in during the first half against Canon-McMillan and started against Mt. Lebanon and Central Catholic.

He finished 43 of 84 for 522 yards and four touchdowns. Remaley also was a safety but will likely just play offense this season as his signal-calling acumen improves.

“Justin taught me every day,” Remaley said. “I learned everything from him. I want to be a great leader and QB like he was. I am ready to do that.”

Remaley also was injured some last year. He tore his labrum — in a junior varsity game of all places — but went down just as Sliwoski was coming back.

Remaley comes from a football family. His father, Bussey, is a coach. His older brother, also Bussey, will be a sophomore lineman at Robert Morris.

“Some parents are hesitant about their kids playing football,” Blake said. “Not mine. They say there’s no way you’re not playing. We watch football all the time. It’s what we do.”

The younger Bussey, a former Hempfield standout, also has helped mold his brother’s budding career.

“We play one-on-one basketball, Xbox, Madden, we like to compete against each other,” Blake said. “His work ethic is incredible. He tore both ACLs and his labrum but came back.”

Blake Remaley will play behind what looks to be a strong offensive line that includes juniors Fintan Brose (6-3, 280), Dillon Ferretti (5-11, 225) and Ryan Cross (6-1, 280). The line’s new-car smell and varsity shell shock is gone, but that means experience could pay dividends after a rough go round last year.

“He’s been with us since his ninth-grade year,” Hempfield coach Rich Bowen said of Remaley. “He came in cold against Canon-McMillan and gave us two good starts. He did a nice job, and we have faith in him to take over for Justin.”

The Spartans want to establish a running game, something they missed last season. Two years ago, the team rushed and passed for about 2,000 yards, a delicate balance that Bowen believes can return to the playbook.

With Sliowski, and go-to target Braden Brose (Delaware) at tight end and receivers Nick and Isaiah DiAndreth, the Spartans all but abandoned the run and threw on nearly every down.

A fullback will return to the mix with junior Randy Nelson playing the part.

“We have some new receivers, but we really want to run it again,” Bowen said. “That said, with the spread, we’ll still probably throw it 20 to 25 times a game.”

Playing a Class 6A schedule won’t do the Spartans any favors but, “I like playing against the big dogs,” Remaley said.

Bill Beckner is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bill at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BillBeckner.

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

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