‘The Dude’ abides on Ligonier Valley offensive line

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Friday, August 20, 2021 | 8:32 PM


Before the 2020 season, Ligonier Valley football coach Roger Beitel talked to a few college coaches about their opinions about offensive linemen.

The Rams were returning a two-year starter at center in Jude Grzywinski and Beitel was considering moving him to another position.

The coaches advised Beitel to be strong in the middle. That convinced the veteran coach that Grzywinski was staying at center.

Grzywinski will be the Rams’ starting center for the fourth consecutive season when they open Friday with a nonconference game at Indiana.

You can call him “Jude the Dude” at Ligonier Valley.

Grzywinski was surrounded by numerous NCAA Division I linemen his freshman and sophomore seasons. Mike Petrof went to Navy, Christian Jablonski to Lehigh and Wylie Spiker to St. Francis.

As he heads into his senior season, the 6-foot-2, 300-pounder hopes it’s his turn to shine.

“It’s all up to him,” Beitel said. “He’s got to show college coaches he deserves a shot.”

Because Jablonski doesn’t have any suitable offers yet, he’s going to be playing with a chip on his shoulder.

Beitel said he’s outperformed some kids at camps that have offers.

“We expect Jude to be more physical than he was last year,” Beitel said. “He’s stronger than he was last year and he’s a senior. He started as a freshman with a bunch of guys that know how to play the game and one year on the line that featured three Division I linemen.

“He’s worked out with those guys and worked with them. He knows what he needs to do, and we’re going to rely on him to be a leader, especially at the center position, to lead the line. Communication is the biggest thing, and he needs to hold guys accountable.”

Grzywinski said he spent a lot of time in the summer lifting. He also attended some camps and learned different techniques that should help him. He swam a lot to work on his flexibility.

Now he’s looking for a big season.

“It’s been a great experience at Ligonier Valley,” Grzywinski said, “playing a lot and all the people who have coached me. I’m having fun with it. Playing football is the main thing for me.”

Ligonier Valley moved back into the WPIAL in 2020 and Grzywinski said it was completely different than District 6 and the Heritage Conference where the Rams dominated during their final six years.

“It was a different level of athlete,” he said. “It’s so much better.”

And while Grzywinski doesn’t have any offers yet, he did go on a visit to West Virginia.

“It was pretty cool at WVU,” Grzywinski said. “I’m going to continue to reach out to coaches and see what I get out of them. It disappoints me because of all the work I’ve put in over the years.

“Guys I played with got offers even from smaller schools. Covid-19 hasn’t helped.”

And Grzywinski said he’s leaving everything on the field to prove to college coaches what they might be getting.

“I’m going to play my heart out,” he said. “If I get hurt, it happens. I just have to play through it. I love playing football.”

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at pschofield@triblive.com.

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