Westmoreland H.S. football notebook: Belle Vernon’s Quinton Martin brushes off pressure

Saturday, October 8, 2022 | 6:34 PM

Quinton Martin ran left, shedding and side-stepping defenders on the way to a 32-yard touchdown run that was worthy of any highlight show.

The Belle Vernon junior running back ended up celebrating with teammates in the far corner of the end zone, only a few feet away from somebody who drove 70 miles to watch him play.

West Virginia coach Neal Brown showed up in Greensburg on Friday night, and Martin showed out with 116 yards rushing and two touchdowns in a 51-7 win for the 3A No. 3 Leopards (4-2, 2-0) over Greensburg Salem (3-4, 0-2).

Was Martin nervous to play in front of another Division I coach?

“He didn’t bat an eyelash,” Belle Vernon coach Matt Humbert said. “It doesn’t bother him. He is so focused. The media and outsiders care more about it than he does.”

West Virginia is one of 20-plus Power 5 schools to offer Martin, the top-rated prospect in the state for the Class of 2024.

Brown already landed Laurel Highlands star Rodney Gallagher. Now he wants Martin.

“Q just plays,” Humbert said. “He made some incredible runs (Friday). He is hard to stop when gets to that second level.”

Penn State coach James Franklin flew in by helicopter to see Martin play earlier in the season, landing on the Belle Vernon parking lot and making his way down to “The Beach.”

Martin said Ohio State also has been out to see him play.

Again, no sweat.

“My mindset doesn’t change when I see coaches at my games,” Martin said. “I know the pressure is different for me, but I just go out and play the game I love.”

In tandem

Martin is a playmaker who can juke defenders, spin into open holes and disappear into space when he gets wide. But Belle Vernon also has its power runner, the thunder to Martin’s lightning.

Junior Jake Gedekoh ran for two touchdowns Friday and added a pick-6 and a blocked punt as the Leopards built a 44-7 halftime lead at Greensburg Salem.

“He doesn’t replace (Devin Whitlock), but he’s the next-best thing,” Martin said. “He comes in and gets yards when I need a break. He is one of my best friends, too.”

Said Gedekoh, “He’re more relaxed (as a runner), and I am more about the contact.”

The duo combined for 176 yards and four TDs Friday. They have 685 yards and 14 TDs as a pair for the season. Martin has 449 yards and nine scores.

“The thing about the two of them is that they are selfless,” Humbert said.

“And I am not just saying that for (the newspaper). They truly don’t care who scores or has the stats. What I covet most is the teamwork and maturity they have. Again, I mean that.”

Ram tough

But after two straight conference wins, Ligonier Valley suddenly is 3-1 and a game behind Steel Valley and Serra Catholic in the 2A Allegheny Conference.

Haden Sierocky propelled the Rams to a 29-15 win at Burrell on Friday night. He scored three touchdowns and intercepted a late pass — it’s rare for Burrell to throw at all — as the Rams moved to 5-2 overall in their third season back in the WPIAL.

Sierocky ran for 171 yards and two scores.

Scotties roll

Quarterback Kadin Keefer was nearly perfect for Southmoreland in Friday’s 36-6 win over South Allegheny.

And Keefer to Keffer continues to gain traction.

He completed 13 of 17 passes for 224 yards and four touchdowns — three to Ty Keffer, who pulled in eight receptions for 167 yards, including an 89-yard score.

Trey Whetsel also had a career game, rushing for 124 yards on 19 carries.

Hudock shines

Franklin Regional wide receiver and defensive back Ayden Hudock shined on both sides of the ball in a 35-0 win over Norwin.

The junior had four catches for 120 yards and two touchdowns, and he intercepted two passes and returned one for a touchdown for the Panthers (4-2, 3-0 5A Big East).

Zach Bewszka also had a big game for the Panthers, rushing for 166 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries.

Pons shifts spots

Norwin’s Jackson Pons, playing wildcat quarterback instead of his usual wide receiver spot, had the first 100-yard rushing game of his career in the loss to Franklin Regional. He ran for 101 yards and also attempted a career-high 17 passes, completing six for 74 yards.

Next week

Week 8 features several all-county matchups, including two that stand out on a lighter schedule.

Hempfield will visit Franklin Regional in a 5A Big East matchup of conference contenders, and Jeannette travels to play rival Greensburg Central Catholic.

GCC features four former Jeannette players.

Other Westmoreland games include Belle Vernon at Mt. Pleasant and Greensburg Salem at Southmoreland.

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

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