QB Eric Wilson wants to help revive Sto-Rox tradition he grew up on
By: Chris Harlan
Sunday, July 21, 2019 | 5:25 PM
The Tribune-Review and the TribLive High School Sports Network are profiling each member of the 25-player Trib HSSN Preseason Football All-Star team. The players will be recognized July 23 during a HSSN Media Day live broadcast at Kennywood Park.
As a youngster at Sto-Rox football games, Eric Wilson watched as Lenny Williams broke WPIAL passing records.
He remembers the sights from those Friday night celebrations but also the sound. Every time the Vikings scored, the fire trucks’ sirens would wail.
“We’d go to the games and wouldn’t even watch the game. We knew the fire trucks were going off,” Wilson said. “It would be 54-0 at halftime. I grew up watching that.”
Now, it is Wilson who makes the sirens sound.
The 6-foot-3, 185-pound quarterback set a WPIAL regular-season passing record with 3,003 yards last season. He also threw for 38 touchdowns and rushed for two more in a high-scoring offense established by LaRoi Johnson in his first year as Sto-Rox’s coach.
The Vikings scored at least 50 points six times.
Wilson ranked among the WPIAL leaders with 264 pass attempts and completed 60 percent of his throws, numbers the rising senior hopes to better this fall.
“I was excited when I found out how many times I was going to get to sling the ball around,” Wilson said. “Me and my head coach, we spend countless hours watching film. He trusts me to make decisions on the field.”
Wilson was the first passer in WPIAL history with 3,000 yards in the regular season. With a possible playoff run this year, Wilson wonders if he could make a push for 3,500 or 4,000.
“I can’t say enough good things about his leadership and how he’s prepared for the season,” Johnson said. “I’ve never seen a kid go so hard.”
Wilson fits nicely into a Sto-Rox tradition that has produced a list of standout quarterbacks. Williams graduated in 2014 as the WPIAL career passing leader. Sto-Rox graduate Adam DiMichele owned that same record a decade earlier.
“Definitely, there are expectations (as a Sto-Rox quarterback),” Wilson said. “I love the challenge. The one advantage I have is that all those guys reach out to me: Adam DiMichele, Paul Jones, Lenny Williams, Jules (Crosby).”
Wilson holds an FCS offer from Howard and has interest from other schools, Johnson said, including Duquesne and Robert Morris. FBS schools Bowling Green and Toledo also have talked with Johnson, who believes a strong start to this season could draw more offers.
Sto-Rox (6-4, 4-3) was limited to 10 games last season because it missed the playoffs as the fourth-place team in tough Class A Big Seven Conference. But the Vikings improved from 3-8 a year earlier, so it has the look of a program on the rise.
“We turned the program around last year,” Wilson said, “so there’s a little bit more expectation this year.”
He is known for deep throws and shows good chemistry with 1,300-yard receiver Amahd Pack, but Wilson has worked to improve his short-passing accuracy and his foot speed.
Wilson is a quarterback who can run, Johnson said, not just an athlete playing quarterback.
“He’s just now really learning how to become the dual-threat version of himself,” Johnson said. “He always had the ability to throw, but he’s learning now that he hasn’t unlocked his athleticism yet. Once he does that, he has sky-is-the-limit potential.”
Wilson wants to restore Sto-Rox’s winning tradition. It wasn’t long ago the team reached the WPIAL finals three consecutive years (2011-13).
“He’s so aware about what it means to be a quarterback at Sto-Rox,” Johnson said. “He often tells me about all the history of what happened here. He really embodies Sto-Rox and the tradition.”
Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .