No time to waste as senior quarterback takes reins of Kiski Area offense

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Monday, August 22, 2022 | 4:53 PM


Playing three sports at Kiski Area, Lebryn Smith doesn’t have much down time.

But he doesn’t mind.

Competition is in his blood.

“I’m definitely always on the go,” Smith said. “I don’t have that many days where I’m not doing anything. As soon as football ends, I start basketball training. Then all throughout basketball season, I do baseball training every Tuesday and Thursday. Then it would be summer baseball mixed with open gyms or games for basketball and workouts, weight room or 7-on-7 for football.”

Right now, Smith, who this summer was recognized as a PA Prep/Rivals Top QB for the Class of 2023, hopes his arm and his feet can help lead the Cavaliers football team back to the WPIAL playoffs.

“We lost a lot of really good players to graduation, but we have guys returning on both sides who can really play and lead this team,” said Smith, who takes over as signal-caller for the graduated Logan Johnson.

“I like what I see from the newer guys who have stepped into new roles. The older guys are really helping them get to where they need to be as they get more and more varsity reps in practice.”

Smith said Saturday’s scrimmage against Connellsville was a good gauge of where he stands personally and where the team is at overall with just one week to go until a Week Zero matchup Friday at rival Plum.

“I think I did pretty well for my first varsity game at quarterback in more than a year,” Smith said. “I had two or three touchdowns and a couple deep balls. I’m not where I want to be, but I will keep working towards my goals.”

Veteran Cavaliers coach Sam Albert said Smith has done well in taking the helm of the offense and continues to develop with appreciation for the protectors up front and the skill weapons he has around him.

“Coming out of the scrimmage, he knows he has things to work on, but overall, I was very pleased with his performance,” Albert said. “We tried to stay balanced with running and throwing — that’s always a goal — and we set up scenarios to see him do different things. He is so athletic and also is very bright, so he’s good at reading defenses. We’re always looking for the best situations that show his abilities.”

Smith entered varsity play as a freshman and earned time at quarterback in an offensive system that featured the running of standout Kenny Blake and the wildcat with Luke Lander.

During the covid-affected 2020 season, Smith appeared in six games while splitting starting duties with Johnson. He completed 17 of 30 passes for 337 yards and four touchdowns.

Last year, Smith was all over the field in the skill positions in support of Johnson, who threw for more than 1,000 yards and rushed for close to 500 more in his final varsity season with the Cavaliers.

Smith caught seven passes for 126 yards and a touchdown and earned All-Northeast Conference honorable mention recognition at wide receiver.

“We had a pretty cool quarterback room last year,” Smith said. “We all learned a lot from each other. Logan and I have been working together to help Carson Heinle, Calvin little brother, who is a sophomore this year. He’ll be the next quarterback after I graduate.”

Smith threw just four passes last year and completed two. One went for a 25-yard touchdown in a 42-27 victory over Shaler.

He said he’s excited for the targets he has in the passing game, including the likes of senior Dom Dininno, junior Isaiah Gonzalez and senior Valley transfer Domanick Simmons.

“Dom had a really nice year last year, so getting him back is nice,” Smith said. “Dom Simmons really adds a lot to what we can do. Isaiah is ready to break out. It’s super nice to be able to have all of those options. A defense will try to stop one, but then there are others I can check down to.”

Smith also is expected to use his legs to get yards.

“This year, I think a lot of our offense will be based off of what my decision is or a read that I get,” he said. “We run a lot of different offensive sets that call for a variety of options and people to be involved. We’re still working on a number of things that I think we can really be successful with.”

Smith said last year was frustrating for him and his teammates because a couple of close conference losses — 14-10 at North Hills and 33-27 at Pine-Richland — were huge factors in the Cavaliers missing out on the WPIAL Class 5A playoffs. Kiski Area finished 6-4 but ended up 1-4 in conference play.

North Hills, especially, was a big one with the catch in the end zone at the end of the game that they called an interception,” Smith said. “That was hard for all of us knowing that we went into the game 5-0 and had a lot of momentum on our side. To have that be our first loss, it was tough. But no matter what, we kept battling until the final game.”

Smith said he is pretty optimistic with the Cavaliers’ fresh start in a challenging Greater Allegheny Conference with the likes of defending champion Hampton, as well as Armstrong, Mars, Highlands, North Catholic and Indiana.

“We also like that we have a challenge at the beginning of the season to get us ready for the conference,” Smith said. “That will help shape this team for down the stretch in the games that will decide a spot in the playoffs.”

In addition to Friday’s game with Plum, Kiski faces Pine-Richland and Laurel Highlands in nonconference play before taking on Hampton on Sept. 16.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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