The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


June 18, 2014

Three quality quarterbacks bolster South’s chances in Lantzy Game

JOHNSTOWN — The South squad has an impressive arsenal of offensive talent on hand for Friday’s Ken Lantzy Finest 40 All-Star Game, set for 7 p.m. at Trojan Stadium.

The Rebels have three skilled quarterbacks on the roster who have combined for nearly 5,000 yards passing and another 2,000 yards on the ground. The South will be guided by Richland’s Matt Shaffer, Ligonier Valley’s Scott Fennell and Somerset’s Tanner Stull.

“We are running a spread offense,” said South head coach and offensive coordinator Bob Landis of Somerset. “I think you look at the roster and the makeup, there are a lot of good receivers in our area of the South and good quarterbacking in the South so we went with a system that works with that. It’s very similar to what we run at Somerset. There are some tweaks to it. Four and five wide receivers and we’re going to try to throw the ball and then by throwing the ball, it creates the running game for you.”

Shaffer said that he has not had much difficulty adapting to the offensive scheme.

“A lot of the concepts on offense are the same as what we ran at Richland,” Shaffer said. “Just the terminology is a little bit different. They see things just a little differently, but it’s the same basic offense.

“I think for a game like this it’s not been bad sharing the duties. We have nothing but fun and we encourage each other on every play. It’s a little more relaxing not to play every play and just jump in there when it’s your turn.”

“Our offense is coming together well,” Stull said. “I know we can pass and run the ball. We are going to put some points on the board.”

Richland’s Tanner Solarczyk will run the ball for the South, with Stull also set to get some carries.

It is a diverse group of athletes who will be filling the slots at receiver, including Dan Tomlinson of Windber, Kyle Flick of Richland, Sam Curry of Westmont Hilltop, Zachary Baker of Somerset, Isaiah Sajatovich of Ferndale, Bruno Rosa of Conemaugh Township, Garrett Smith of Blacklick Valley and Matt Barkley of Windber. Tyler Rugg of Bishop McCort will be the tight end.”

“It’s all about timing and practicing,” Shaffer said about working with the receivers. “It’s important to get a good chemistry going with those guys. We don’t have very much time to do that, but that’s the biggest thing with quarterbacks and receivers is to get a chemistry going and timing down on routes and I think we’re starting to do that. Everybody is getting used to everything.”

The offensive linemen are Nick Boring of Ligonier Valley, Kevin Horner and Derek Mullen of North Star, Grant Brandon and Brad Sladki of Greater Johnstown, Zachary Svencer and Bailey Roberts of Conemaugh Township.

“We are all working together and communicating which is very key on the line,” Boring said. “I think the offense is looking really good. We’ve got a lot of things wrapped up right now and I think we can put it all together on Friday night.”

Shaffer said he is battling expectations as much as he is going against the North.

“I think representing Richland at this game, there is a little bit of pressure because people do expect a lot,” said Shaffer, who is bound for Slippery Rock.

“But I think in this game, it’s all about having fun and if you’re not doing that, there’s really no point of playing in this game. There’s a little bit of pressure and I think it’s always going to be that way. I kind of bring it, I kind of invite it, I kind of like it. I think it helps everyone perform better and I’m looking forward to the experience.

“I think it’s very important to represent Richland and I think Tanner (Solarczyk), Ben (Verhovsek) and Kyle (Flick) understand that too. I think all of these players understand it for their teams, too. You are representing your team and your school and I think it’s very important to represent them well and do whatever you can to show up at the game on Friday.”

Landis said that the offense continues to make progress.

“It’s been great. We line up and you have the best of everybody at every position,” the South coach said.

“You’re running routes and receivers are open. Guys are fast, they are making throws that you hoped they would make and it’s fantastic to have an offensive group like that. Everything is in within two days and that’s fast. That’s a tribute to the coaches that prepared these boys before they got here.

“Our offense top to bottom, is doing a fantastic job. Implementation went well. We’re adding finishing touches at this point and getting ready to go for Friday night.”

Added Shaffer: “I’m not one for predictions, but I think the South is going to win handily.”


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