The quarterback position is one of the most delicate in the game of football. Ask senior hurler Akil Young how he feels about his performance in U.S.O. (University Prep, Sci-Tech, and Obama)’s 9-6 overtime loss to Perry on Nov 3rd.
He blames the loss on himself.
“I felt like I was the reason we lost,” Young said. “The decisions that I made and things that I did really hurt us.”
Redemption is an understatement to describe his play, since.
In their first PIAA Class AAA subregional game last week against Somerset, Young threw for a record-setting 462 yards on 30 of 46 passing.
On Nov 17, he tossed five touchdowns while gaining 353 yards on 23 completions of 36 attempts against previously undefeated Clearfield in a 36-22 victory in the PIAA Class AAA districts 5-6-8-9 subregional championship at Clarion University.
“He’s done a really good job putting these guys on his shoulders and carrying the load,” U.S.O. coach Lou Berry said. “He’d expressed to me after the city title game that he blamed himself for the loss, which was completely not the case, but he saw otherwise.”
As the City League’s runner-up, U.S.O. represented the PIAA (Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association)’s district 8.
Clearfield’s junior quarterback Christian Lezzer put up similar numbers to Young this season. Prior to their game against U,S.O., he’d completed 47 of 82 passes for 1,210 yards with 17 touchdowns against just five interceptions.
Beyond what he did with his arm, he lead the team in rushing with over 1,400 tallies.
In addition to Lezzer, undefeated Clearfield featured an 1,000 yard rusher at the running back position in Tyler Stratton– 1,134 in total– to go with 15 touchdowns.
Offensively, the Bison maintained their success. Senior receiver Trey Jordan went over 1,000 tallies on the year with his six catches and a game-high 180 yards, receiving.
Lezzer finished with 235 yards on 8 of 20 passes with three touchdowns.
But, U.S.O.’s defense rose to the occasion and created six turnovers.
“We got off to a great start defensively,” Berry said. “We forced their quarterback, who is very good, into some key mistakes. Making him nearly match his season interception total in one game made us feel like we were successful on that side of the ball.”
U.S.O. running back Clay Moorefield made eight grabs for 95 yards and a touchdown to assist Young in leading the Wildcats’ passing attack.
Young also hooked up with senior H-back Myles Catlin for a 15-yard score in the first quarter. The pass and catch duo did it again from 40-away in the second and finally in the final stanza for 19 yards.
Mike Wright was on the receiving end of an eight yard strike from Young to round out the scoring for the Wildcats.
They will move to the PIAA Class AAA first round in which they’ll take on Selimsburg (9-3) who is the winner of District 4. The game will take place at Mansion Park Stadium in Altoona, which was the site where they suffered their most recent loss in the State playoffs, last season, against State College.
“I’m extremely proud to be moving on and representing the city in the next round,” Berry said. “Everyone knows what happened last season, but I’m kind of excited about going back there to play this one. We certainly are not expecting the same outcome, however.”
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(Malik Vincent can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @malikvincent.)