ALIQUIPPA, Pa. Eli Kosanovich is the all-time leading passer in Aliquippa history and just quarterbacked the Quips to their third state title.
There were some years that being the leading passer at Aliquippa didn’t mean much. The Quips, made famous by their defense, played an offense that didn’t exactly move the needle when it came to creativity. They did a lot of running, and it obviously worked, as Aliquippa has won 17 WPIAL titles.
But it didn’t provide for a lot of opportunities at the next level for the players involved in the Quips’ passing game. Of the Aliquippa players famous for the success in the NFL, almost all of them have come on the defensive side of the ball.
But all of that has changed. First-year head coach Mike Warfield was the quarterbacks coach at nearby Central Valley and brought a dynamic, college-style offense to Aliquippa and former NFL receiver Derek Moye in as receivers coach.
After splitting time at quarterback with Kwantel Raines in 2016 and Will Gipson in 2017, Kosanovich was installed as the first full-time pocket passer in recent memory and the Quips’ offense roared to life. He threw for 39 touchdowns and 3,189 yards — third in the entire WPIAL.
Before Kosanovich, no Aliquippa quarterback had ever thrown for over 2,000 yards. To commemorate the achievement, there are plans to put mount his jersey on the wall in Aliquippa’s field house.
The change in offense has made a huge impact on the way Aliquippa’s top athletes have been recruited at the next level. Gipson, now primarily a receiver, has committed to play at Pitt. Fellow receiver Deoveon Crute is headed to Duquesne. M.J. Devonshire is still being sought after by a half-dozen Power Five schools as a three-way threat that can play offense, defense and special teams. Receiver Larry Walker is headed to Albany. Running back Avante McKenzie has an offer to Division II power Notre Dame College.
“[Warfield] moving me to receiver was probably the best thing,” Gipson said. “I wouldn’t have had the plays that I had. That’s how I got my way to college: at receiver.”
But the engine that drove that production hasn’t gotten the same type of next-level attention. Despite his eye-popping stat line, the Division I teams have yet to line up for Kosanovich. He’s been in touch with a few FCS squads, including Duquesne, and some Division II teams, but most of the attention he’s received has been at the Division III level.
Part of that is probably due to the lack of available film after Kosanovich carried a part-time role in a rushing offense the last two seasons. He said the other part has been having to convince people to take a good look at a quarterback from Aliquippa, something that hasn’t been the norm.
“Switching offenses, they want to see how you play,” he said. “The want to see if you’re consistent. I think I’ve proved myself pretty well.”
Kosanovich hopes he opened some additional eyes in the Quips’ run through the WPIAL and PIAA playoffs.
“I think winning the championship can go far,” he said. “As the teams in high school go down, that means more teams can see you play.”
Now, there’s not a lot more that Kosanovich can do to improve his resume. He finished his high school career as a two-time WPIAL champion, a state champion, and is on track to gradate with an over-4.0 GPA.
“I think my play on the field stands for itself,” he said. “Right now, it’s looking live Division II and Division III schools are contacting me a lot. We’ll see what happens, maybe it’ll be a higher level.”