Norwin serves notice with win at WCCA 7-on-7 tournament

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Thursday, July 15, 2021 | 6:56 PM


There were notable absences at Thursday’s Westmoreland County Coaches Association 7-on-7 Football Passing Tournament at Latrobe.

Organizers and coaches missed former president Larry Sellitto, who died in December. This was one of his favorite county events.

Jeannette and Derry did not compete for the first time in the event’s 10 years, the former because of low roster numbers and limited workouts, the other because of a change in offseason preparation.

And longtime Franklin Regional coach Greg Botta was not there for the first time because he retired in the offseason after 27 years on the sidelines.

Sellitto was remembered fondly as the WCCA named the event after him, and Franklin Regional showed up by reaching the finals.

But one team really made sure its presence was felt as the county championship returned after it fell victim to the pandemic last year.

Behind new quarterback Luke Levendosky and wideout Jackson Pons, Norwin won all six of its games to claim its second county title.

Technically, Norwin went back-to-back after winning in 2019 behind prolific passer Jack Salopek.

The WCCA Larry Sellitto Memorial 7-on-7 champion Knights downed Franklin Regional in the title game, 15-6, on the sizzling turf at Rossi Field.

Sellitto was a longtime assistant with his best friend, Botta, at Franklin Regional. He always gave a speech to the winning team in a post-event huddle, but WCCA football liason Bo Ruffner did the honors this time.

“We won this in 2019 and wanted to come in and do well today,” Norwin coach Dave Brozeski said. “It’s nice to see the kids compete. Our (6A) conference is a bear. In something like this, as a coach you want to that response to situations.”

Brozeski was grateful to the WCCA for their efforts to make another tournament a success. The event started in 2011. He was quick to recognize Sellitto.

“Larry was such a great guy,” Brozeski said. “I still have the video on my phone of him presenting us the trophy. People don’t realize how much he did for the WCCA.”

New Franklin Regional coach Lance Getsy, who saw his Panthers go 4-2 and win Bracket B, knew his team making the finals was special. Franklin Regional last made the county finals in 2015.

“We told the kids how proud Larry would have been to see us make the finals,” Getsy said. “We had hoped to win and give the plaque to coach Botta. The kids know how close Greg and I are. I am still really proud of our kids’ efforts.”

Levendosky, who saw limited varsity action last season as a junior, completed 55 of 79 passes on the day and threw 14 touchdowns against zero interceptions.

He was 9 of 15 in the title game, tossing scoring passes to Pons and junior Noah Vogel.

“We’re trying to build the energy,” Levendosky said. “We haven’t had it in past years. That’s why our record has been what it is. My teammates are always bringing energy to practice.”

Pons, a 6-foot-1, 170-pound sophomore receiver and safety who has a Division I offer from Gardner Webb, caught multiple touchdowns from Levedosky, including a comebacker to put the Knights up early on Franklin Regional.

“We wanted to come in here and make a statement because we want to come into the season and make a statement that we’re going to come to win,” said Pons, who transferred back to Norwin from Central Catholic. “Coming here and winning gives the team and the rest of the WPIAL (a message) … Hey, they’re coming. We want to show this wasn’t just a fluke, it’s going to be all season long.”

Five-time county champion Penn-Trafford finished 4-1, a game behind Norwin in Bracket A. Norwin’s confidence skyrocketed when it edged past the Warriors, 9-8, during pool play.

“That one was big,” Levendosky said.

Norwin also defeated Mt. Pleasant, Burrell, Greensburg Salem and Kiski Area.

In the 17-16 win over Kiski Area that propelled the Knights into the finals, senior Noah Houser broke up a late conversion attempt by the Cavaliers.

Senior Josh Page also had a nice fourth-down break-up on Kiski Area’s second drive.

Latrobe had two teams in the tournament. It’s “A” team went 4-1 in pool play but lost to Franklin Regional, 14-3, giving the Panthers the head-to-head tiebreaker.

This was just the second time Penn-Trafford did not make the finals. They lost to Norwin in the championship two years ago, 24-13.

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

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