Tuesday, August 21, 2012

All in the family at South Fayette

I took a trip to South Fayette today for the next stop on my football camp tour. As I pulled into the parking lot of the football complex – gorgeous, by the way, if you haven’t seen it – I almost expected to see a statue with the names “Challingsworth” and “Brumbaugh” on it.

Have had a few members of those families come through that place lately, no?

Brett Brumbaugh (see my pic above) will start the season at quarterback after being thrust into the lineup late last season because of injuries. It’s the same position that his older brother, Christian, manned so well that he helped the Lions win a WPIAL Class AA title and reach the PIAA Class AA final in 2010 before accepting a scholarship to William & Mary.

If you’re a Challingsworth, chances are you’ve caught passes from a Brumbaugh, which is the case for Tyler and his younger brother, Zach, who’s a senior at South Fayette this season and has given Pitt a verbal commitment.

Both younger siblings, of course, are looking to leave their mark on the program, one that has won at least seven games in seven of the past nine years.

“I always look back to what my brother accomplished and to what Christian accomplished,” Zach Challingsworth said. “You definitely want to make your own name, but just to have the Brumbaugh or Challingsworth name being talked about around South Fayette when football comes up is nice to have.

"It gives you a little bit of an edge because you want to beat out the older brother.”

Zach Challingsworth has certainly established himself as one of the premier receiving threats in the WPIAL, if not the No. 1 guy, by catching 48 passes for 704 yards and nine touchdowns last fall. I’m excited to see Challingsworth, sure, but what will be most interesting to me is whether Brett Brumbaugh can continue to put up impressive numbers, perhaps similar to what Christian did.

Brumbaugh hit on 48 of 76 passes for 606 yards and seven scores after taking over for an injured John Lerda during the final week of the regular season. Brumbaugh, who was only a freshman at the time, admitted to me that his head was spinning when he was trying to digest the Lions' offense for the first time.

(If you haven’t seen South Fayette, it’s not exactly an old fashioned I-formation or the wishbone.)

“I thought it was going to be too overwhelming,” Brumbaugh said. “I saw all these players crossing, going every direction. I remember being on the sidelines as a ballboy thinking, ‘This is going to be so hard to learn.’ But I learned it the first year. It was actually not as hard as I thought it was going to be, although it was still challenging.”

After hearing this I asked Challingsworth whether Brumbaugh was noticeably overwhelmed at first. He said yes, but Brumbaugh obviously didn’t let it show, either in his demeanor or his stats.

“He was pretty confused at the time,” Challingsworth said. “It was a hard transition. You’re out there as a receiver saying, ‘I see it’s cover-2, cover-3, I know what’s going to be open. I hope he understands the reads.

"Brett has come a long way, and he’s still going to get better. I think he can be one of the top quarterbacks in the state, if not the nation, by the time he’s a senior.”

Whether South Fayette can win another WPIAL title, who knows. But Brumbaugh did look awfully impressive in practice this afternoon.

I talked to head coach Joe Rossi, and he said we can expect to see more of the South Fayette offense that we saw in 2010, with Brett's older brother Christian under center.

"Learning our offense is almost like learning a new language," Rossi said. "We do so much. It's very sophisticated. We really feel that [Brett] has picked that up. Last year we kept it simple, but this year we've been able to change a lot of things and open up the playbook."

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