Westmoreland County high school football notebook: Belle Vernon’s Devin Whitlock grabs headlines

Wednesday, November 4, 2020 | 11:37 AM

Devin Whitlock’s importance to the Belle Vernon football team cannot be understated.

The junior star who moved from receiver to quarterback is having a special season. As in, WPIAL player of the year-caliber stuff.

He has led the Leopards (6-1) to the WPIAL Class 4A semifinals Friday night at Aliquippa (8-0).

Highlight-reel plays have become commonplace for Whitlock, who transferred from Monessen after his freshman year.

Consider: He has accounted for 23 touchdowns, and those scores have come four ways. He has 13 rushing TDs, six via pass, three on interception returns and one on a punt return.

“What’s impressed me about Devin is the second-level speed this year,” Belle Vernon coach Matt Humbert said. “That has been something that has popped off the film. Also his command of the offense and his distributing of the ball.”

Whitlock, one of the smaller players on the field each week at 5-foot-8, 165 pounds, has rushed for a Westmoreland County-leading 941 yards. He has six 100-yard games and is averaging 11.6 yards per carry.

He averages 204.9 yards a game.

He has five interceptions as an excellent cover defensive back.

Whitlock is looking forward to going against Aliquippa at the famous “Pit.”

“Coming into a big venue like this, I just have to come in like it’s at The Beach (at Belle Vernon) or anywhere else,” he said. “The place doesn’t change the players, so I’ll feel comfortable (on any field).”

Short history

The three remaining local teams in the WPIAL playoffs have not played their opponents much over the years.

Penn-Trafford and Pine-Richland have only played once, in the 2015 semifinals. Penn-Trafford won 38-34.

Belle Vernon and Aliquippa have met twice, in the 1980 and ’89 semifinals. The Quips won both meetings, 8-7 and 14-7.

Jeannette and Rochester have a little more history. The Jayhawks and Rams played in 2016, ’17 and ’18. Jeannette won the first two matchups, 30-20 and 30-26, but Rochester returned the favor 27-0.

Freshman impact

Jeannette and Belle Vernon have an abundance of talent at the skill positions, and that includes a pair of freshmen who have made fast progress.

Jeannette has quarterback Brad Birch, who has thrown for 1,424 yards and 26 touchdowns while completing 66% of his passes.

At Belle Vernon, Quinton Martin is a ninth grader to watch. He has rushed for 344 yards and five TDs with most of that production coming last week in a 49-21 win over Chartiers Valley. He ran for 147 yards and three scores in the quarterfinal victory.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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