St. Francis (Pa.) extends offer to Central Catholic QB Payton Wehner

Friday, July 14, 2023 | 4:03 PM

Central Catholic has more than 100 players signed up for football this season. That includes a rising group of more than 50 freshmen.

Once a promising ninth grader himself, quarterback Payton Wehner has come a long way in his time with the Vikings.

Suddenly, though, he is all grown up and one of the program’s top seniors.

The second-leading passer in the WPIAL last season is finding his way onto the radar of college coaches and he forges a path to college football.

This week, Wehner picked up his first Division I scholarship offer, from Saint Francis (Pa.) in Loretto.

The Red Flash plays in the FCS Northeast Conference.

“I was just thinking about that,” Wehner said of his career. “It seems like I was just a freshman. It all goes so fast. I can’t believe I am a senior.”

Slowed by a broken leg late in his freshman season, Wehner rallied to become one of the top passers in the WPIAL.

Wehner (6-foot, 175 pounds), who carries a 4.5 grade-point average, was a finalist for the Willie Thrower Award for the WPIAL’s top quarterback. The North Huntingdon native threw for 2,505 yards and 11 touchdowns, completing 176 of 285 passes, as Central played in its fourth straight WPIAL Class 6A championship.

Wehner is the first Central Catholic quarterback to throw for more than 2,000 yards in a season.

He attended a prospect camp at St. Francis and thought an offer might come after a sound workout.

“It was a little bit of a surprise, but not really,” he said of the offer. “We did some quick-game stuff, and I got the ball out quick. We did some one-one-ones, and some of my Central receivers were there with me, so that helped with the deep ball.”

Wehner also attended camps at Yale and Pitt and has plans to connect with Lehigh and Ivy League programs Cornell and Dartmouth.

“Someone asked me if I am happy about the offer,” Wehner said. “I said, yes, I am, but I am much more relieved, to be honest. The first one is big.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at


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