Penn Hills quarterback Hollis Mathis encouraged by all-state honors

Thursday, December 28, 2017 | 11:00 PM

After leading his football team to its deepest playoff run since 2008, junior quarterback Hollis Mathis can't shake the team-first mentality even after being recognized with all-state honors in mid-December.

Mathis (6-2, 170) was selected to the Pennsylvania Football Writers all-state team after helping the Indians to an 8-4 record with a 3-3 mark in Class 6A Northern Seven action. Mathis is the first Indian to be selected all-state since Aaron Donald in 2009.

Earlier this offseason, Mathis was recognized as a PA Big 56 second-team all-conference selection. Mathis finished the season with 2,435 passing yards with 27 touchdowns and eight interceptions while adding 328 yards on the ground.

“First things first, I'm always working to get a championship. I'm never going out for the personal accolades in mind. Those are really nice things that you possibly could get for winning,” Mathis said.

“My only objective is to get us to that state championship and be able to win the type of games that we need to win. The personal accolades are encouraging but not at all needed.”

Mathis was one of five quarterbacks selected, including Pine-Richland senior Phil Jurkovec, a Notre Dame recruit who was named the Pennsylvania Gatorade Player of the Year.

The other quarterbacks were Williamsport junior Joe Fagnano, Manheim Township senior Luke Emge and Coatesville sophomore Ricky Ortega.

“It goes to show that what we did this year wasn't forgotten. There is more to come. It's encouraging to know that what I did was recognized,” Mathis said.

“It was a real big honor to be up with some of those big names and to be recognized as a top-five quarterback in the state.”

Mathis' performance this season was one of the reasons why first-year coach Jon LeDonne and the rest of the Indians reached the WPIAL Class 6A semifinals.

The Indians lost to Central Catholic, 17-8, in the semifinals, which was Penn Hills' second loss to the Vikings in three weeks. Penn Hills won a quarterfinal game, 30-28, against Bethel Park.

“Hollis is a heck of a player. He does everything that a coach can ask for. He is one that has a very bright future. He does things the right way,” LeDonne said.

“When you get a kid like that it's important to get the recognition. It pays off with all the work that he puts in and the things that he does for the program and the school itself.”

As the Indians move to Class 5A for football next season, Penn Hills looks to be in capable hands with Mathis being under center. LeDonne pointed to how Mathis' abilities don't just stop on the football field.

“We have a couple guys that are doing things the right way not only on the field but also in the classroom,” LeDonne said.

“Hollis is the role model-type athlete that we expect. He gets it done in the classroom. He is very well-respected by his peers, teachers, coaches and people in the community.”

Mathis holds one scholarship offer from Howard and interest from some MAC schools, including Toledo and Miami, Ohio.

Before he prepares for the next level, however, he wants the Penn Hills community to know he will lead the Indians to a better season next year with his eyes set on a championship.

“I want to reassure everybody that we will be back and better next year,” he said. “We will make it to where everybody wants us to go for sure.”

Andrew John is a freelance writer.


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