QB Xander LeFebvre, Western Beaver out to earn respect

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Saturday, August 20, 2022 | 12:01 PM


Xander LeFebvre has a cool name.

Sounds like an action movie star or maybe a linemate of Mario Lemieux during his junior hockey days.

But how many local high school football fans are familiar with that name, even though he’s a four-year starter who threw for 1,000 yards for a WPIAL playoff team last season?

That’s a key question that could shape Western Beaver’s season.

Let coach Ron Busby explain.

“This kid doesn’t even get second-team all-conference or really any media attention or notoriety,” Busby said. “I can tell you this. He’s playing with a chip on his shoulder this year. He takes offense to that. That’s something our entire team is going to rally around.

“That’s what we want to be our battle cry this year. We feel like we haven’t gotten the respect we deserve. We understand we have to go out and earn that. We’re approaching this season like this is the year. This is the year we’re going to go out and get the respect we deserve, and we do that by winning very physical football games.”

The Golden Beavers, who went 7-4 last season, have the horses to earn that respect on the field, starting with LeFebvre under center.

“We feel like we’ll be in a position to maybe surprise some teams with things he’s able to do this year because of some guys that we’ll be able to put around him,” Busby said.

Some of those players around LeFebvre received the all-conference honors that he didn’t last season.

Drew Mitchell was the co-lineman of the year. Dorian McGhee, a 6-foot-1 receiver, and Levi Gray, a playmaker all over the field, were first-teamers, too.

Other returning starters include 6-1, 270-pound tackle Skyler Silver and Alex Snowden on the line and junior Tyson Florence running behind them. Defensive starters Aaron Smith and Deondre Robinson are back, too.

“I feel good about what we’ve got back,” Busby said. “We’ve got a lot of guys back on both sides of the ball. We’ve got schemes on both sides of the ball that are in place now, and everybody understands. There’s an expectation from that standpoint that this should be a really solid year for us.”

The wild cards on offense for Western Beaver are a pair of towering junior wide receivers new to high school football who are joining the team as part of a co-op with Lincoln Park: 6-3 Mikey Crawford and 6-4 Dontay Green.

“The co-op is no secret to people, and it’s been good to us for a couple years. We’ve had some good players from Lincoln Park,” Busby said. “We’re excited to have them. We think a couple of those guys are going to be real impact players.”

The combination of returning talent and promising newcomers should give Western Beaver one of the more exciting offenses in Class 2A, which could prove interesting given their new conference home.

Thanks to WPIAL realignment, Western Beaver will be back in the Midwestern Athletic Conference with their Beaver County brethren. It’s a league not known for its flashiness, but Busby said he thinks the Golden Beavers will fit in all the same.

“You try to build a team to play a physical style of football, regardless of what your schemes are,” he said. “You’re expecting to have that kind of battle each and every time out there, and you take pride in your kids being ready for that. That’s the game I grew up playing: physical, hard-nosed tough football. That’s what the MAC is. We’re excited to get a chance to get back to that style of play.”

Western Beaver

Coach: Ron Busby

2021 record: 7-4, 3-2 in Class 2A Three Rivers Conference

All-time record: 308-256-6

SCHEDULE

Date, Opponent, Time

8.26 at Beaver Area, 7:30

9.2 at Shenango, 7

9.10 Hopewell, 12:30

9.17 Neshannock*, 12:30

9.23 at Ellwood City*, 7

10.1 Freedom*, 12:30

10.7 at Riverside*, 7

10.14 at New Brighton*, 7

10.22 Mohawk*, 12:30

10.28 at Beaver Falls*, 7

*Conference game

STATISTICAL LEADERS

Passing: Xander LeFebvre

55-114, 1,012 yards, 15 TDs, 10INTs

Rushing: Thad Gray*

103-534, 5 TDs

Receiving: Dorian McGhee

13-284, 5 TDs

*Graduated

FAST FACTS

• Western Beaver is no stranger to the Midwestern Athletic Conference. The Golden Beavers played in the league as recently as 2019, only heading to the Three Rivers Conference for the last two-year enrollment cycle.

• After dropping its opener to New Brighton last season, Western Beaver went on a six-game winning streak, including a nonconference victory over Class 4A playoff team Beaver.

• Western Beaver went 4-0 on the road in the regular season last year.

• Western Beaver has made the playoffs in three of the last five seasons.

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review Assistant Sports Editor. You can contact Jonathan by email at jbombulie@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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