Penn-Trafford senior lineman Mayr has Will to Win
By: Bill Beckner Jr.
Sunday, August 20, 2017 | 12:57 PM
As a third-year senior starter, Will Mayr knows his value to the Penn-Trafford football team will increase greatly as the Warriors stare down high expectations behind a senior-led group that coach John Ruane said comes with “high character.”
While he won’t say much about the heightened role, he has accepted it. The elder statesman extends a welcoming hand to teammates, but by way of his on-field play.
“I try to lead by my actions,” Mayr said. “I don’t think there is anything better than that to show the guys what to do.”
Mayr won’t scream and yell much — unless he’s calling out signals or giving advice to teammates. Yet he has the potential to be quite a noisemaker as a blocker and pass-rusher.
“He’s all business,” Ruane said. “I’d love to have 11 of him.”
Penn-Trafford returns its leading passer (Cam Laffoon), rusher (John Gay) and receiver (Cam Suman) from last season’s 7-3 team that just missed the WPIAL Class 5A playoffs. But its front line could be the difference-making unit that allows skill players to make plays.
The Warriors trust they can get behind Mayr, an all-Big East Conference first team offensive tackle who clearly has the respect of teammates. Just don’t expect a long-winded acceptance speech.
“He was voted a captain and he doesn’t talk much,” Ruane said. “But when he does talk, it means something. He is the epitome of lead-by-example guy. He’s not selfish, and he is first in line to help the younger guys.”
Ruane points to a three-game stretch two seasons ago that helped Mayr cut his teeth at the varsity level and began to shape his game.
“He made three starts late in the season, against McKeesport, Pine-Richland and Central Catholic — at Heinz Field (in the WPIAL 4A championship),” Ruane said. “You wouldn’t have known he was a sophomore; He was 220 pounds and fit right in. He earned the right to start with his energy at practice.”
Mayr made 39 tackles and recorded three sacks last season. At 6-foot-1 and 240 pounds, he is smaller than some 5A lineman, but moves much better than many of those larger players.
“I think big, giant lineman are overrated at the high-school level,” Ruane said. “We have had more success with the big, athletic guys who can really move. Will is that kind of guy.”
Mayr has some low Division I and Division II interest, Mount Union, Slippery Rock and Edinboro among those schools that like him. But a big senior season could lead to a larger scholarship offer.
Teammate and fellow lineman Logan Hawkins (6-2, 270) has a scholarship to Akron; coaches must have seen Mayr on film next to Hawkins, right?
Hawkins also plays tackle and defensive end, the opposite bookend to Mayr.
“Logan and I are really good friends,” Mayr said. “We have each other’s backs. As far as colleges, all I can do is give 110 percent and see what happens.”
Hawkins and Mayr helped the Warriors allow a conference-low 151 points last season (15.1 per game). Hawkins had eight sacks.
Mayr might be playing out of position, depending on how a coach chooses to use him. Ruane admits he could play Mayr elsewhere but necessity calls.
“He’s probably an outside linebacker or even a hybrid, tight end-fullback,” Ruane said. “But we need him at tackle and defensive end.”
Mayr has confidence that the Warriors can live up to postseason expectations and remain in the conversation for 5A title contenders.
“I think we can win a championship; We have that kind of (talent),” Mayr said. “We have seniors who have seen both sides of the spectrum. Three losses (last season) is not acceptable.”
The Warriors’ other three captains are Hawkins, Laffoon and Suman.
Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @BillBeckner.