Mt. Lebanon’s latest title gives youngest Harvey brother equal bragging rights at Thanksgiving dinner

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Tuesday, November 23, 2021 | 4:43 PM


Thanksgiving means family, food and football in the Harvey household, and as the youngest of eight kids, William Harvey grew up hearing stories from the time his oldest brother won a WPIAL title.

This year, when the siblings gather in Mt. Lebanon for dinner and their annual turkey bowl, he has a new story to share.

Twenty-one years after brother James won a WPIAL championship at Three Rivers Stadium, “little” brother William Harvey celebrated another Saturday night. The WPIAL football title was Mt. Lebanon’s first since that 2000 season, yet the 21-year age difference between the two brothers let the Harvey family celebrate both.

“He talks about it all the time,” William Harvey said. “I was pretty envious of him. So, it was nice to win.”

James Harvey was watching from the stands Saturday night at Norwin as Mt. Lebanon defeated Central Catholic, 47-7, in the Class 6A final. William Harvey, a 6-foot-3, 280-pound senior, is a three-year starter on the Blue Devils defensive line.

James Harvey was a standout receiver on the 2000 team that defeated Woodland Hills, 14-13, in the WPIAL Class AAAA final.

“I remember when we won it, and having this idea that I would never forget this,” James Harvey said. “You’re constantly thinking about it when fall comes around and you hear the band and you smell the fall air. You just never forget it. That’s why I’m so happy to have my brother experience the same thing.”

On the eve of this year’s championship, the two brothers watched a recording of that game, which was decided by a botched extra point attempt.

“I was trying to get him pumped up,” James Harvey said. “I have the tape of my championship at Three Rivers, so I was showing him and trying to narrate through it, talking about the emotions you’re going to feel. It was fun just sharing that with him.”

William Harvey agreed.

“It was fun,” he said. “It was definitely a lot closer than our game. It was pretty intense.”

Tom and Mary Harvey have eight children: James, Theresa, Peter, Patricia, Kathleen, John, David and William.

All five boys played high school football at Mt. Lebanon. James later played college football for Harvard, Peter played at Johns Hopkins and David is a senior fullback this season at Princeton. Two of the sisters married college football players, including one who made the NFL.

So, playing football was almost inevitable for William, who took up the sport in fifth grade.

“I watched all of my brothers play and wanted to be like them,” he said.

As the nose guard, William Harvey spearheaded a defense that held Central Catholic to only 49 rushing yards. The Vikings barely reached 100 yards from scrimmage in a game that became one-sided.

Mt. Lebanon led 28-7 at half. The Blue Devils knew their 21-year wait for another title was officially ending once they outscored Central Catholic, 19-0, in the third quarter.

“It was awesome doing something that hasn’t been done in awhile,” William Harvey said.

“It brought tears to my eyes when James won it,” said their father Tom Harvey, “and this is the same.”

William Harvey said people are sometimes surprised to find out the Harveys are all brothers considering their age range. James Harvey, now 39, was already in college when William was born.

In fact, in the days before widespread cell phone use, it was a future NFL quarterback who broke the news to him of William’s arrival.

“I called Ryan Fitzpatrick, quarterback at Harvard, to have him run across campus to let James know he had a little brother,” Mary Harvey said.

This is the end of an era at Mt. Lebanon with William now a senior. But the Harveys are already looking forward to the family’s next generation, which will enter high school in the coming years.

“We have some grand kids coming up, so just hold off,” Tom Harvey said with a laugh. “There’s only a six-year difference between the oldest grand kid and William, but there are more girls this time than boys.”

Thanksgiving will be a little busier this year than usual. William Harvey said the family has a tradition of playing a pick-up football game at a nearby middle school before eating dinner. With the state playoffs ahead, Mt. Lebanon also has a real practice that morning.

But sometime that day, there surely will be time at the Harvey household to talk about Saturday’s WPIAL championship game.

“It will be nice to bring it up,” William Harvey said, “especially to my oldest brother.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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