Highlands’ Chandler Thimons ready to take big steps in sophomore year

Monday, August 3, 2020 | 12:29 PM

Highlands quarterback Chandler Thimons had quite the season under center as a freshman last year.

The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder completed 84 of 170 passes for 1,363 yards and 11 touchdowns. He was one of the top freshman passers in the WPIAL, and with a solid first year under his belt, Thimons is ready to take the next step as a player.

“It’s a big change to have all the coaches telling me I need to step up and start being a leader a lot more,” Thimons said. “It’s kind of hard to adjust to it because I wasn’t in that position before because we had guys like Johnny (Crise) and all the older guys helping me through everything. So, since they all left, all the coaches are telling me I need to step up and lead this team, so I’m doing that as much as possible.”

Seniors such as Crise helped bring along a young quarterback who was stepping into a demanding position on the varsity level for the first time. Over the course of the season, Highlands coach Dom Girardi could see Crise take Thimons under his wing and pass on crucial pieces of advice and encouragement.

Now, through the first few weeks of voluntary workouts at Highlands, Girardi is starting to see that same thing in his young quarterback.

“Because Johnny was a great leader for a young quarterback, now I’m seeing that young quarterback getting older and being a good leader for the other guys around him, knowing when to push them and knowing when to pat them on the back,” Girardi said. “There’s a lot of little things that go into having success and being able to lead and lead the right way is one of them.”

Taking on more of a leadership role is just part of Thimons’ development as a quarterback after a whirlwind freshman year. He took over the position shortly before a Week Zero game against Plum and as the season carried on, he started to take on more of the offense.

Toward the end of the season, Thimons started to gain more confidence and hit his stride. In the last three games of the year, he threw for 565 yards, surpassing 150 yards in all three games, and six touchdowns.

“At the beginning of the year, everything was going so fast for me because I had to learn everything so quick,” Thimons said. “But by the end of the year, I started to get everything down, and it was a lot easier to just process everything. It definitely helped out a lot more towards the end of the year because they weren’t putting as much on me as they were at the beginning of the year.”

Along with a better understanding of the position and what it takes to succeed, the Golden Rams also have a lot of talent to accompany their young quarterback.

Starting running back Brock White returns after rushing for 809 yards as a sophomore. Also back are D.J. Loveland and Kaeleb White, who were both crucial in the passing game last year.

What might be the most comforting thing for the young quarterback is the offensive line he’ll have in front of him.

“You look at it and most of those guys have either 10 or 20 starts under their belt,” Girardi said. “So, fortunately, there isn’t too much they haven’t seen yet, and if you want to have success, you have to do well up front. So, having those guys back is a good starting point for us, but you still have to execute.”

With everything falling into place for Thimons, he now knows it’s up to him to continue to improve.

“I know I’m doing everything I can now, but I know I could’ve done so much more last year that I didn’t,” Thimons said. “It kind of makes me mad just looking back. I could’ve been at the field every day working out, but I wasn’t. I was going as much as possible, but I could’ve gone more. So I have to work a lot harder this year to have a better outcome for this season.”

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .


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