There were 121 football teams that participated in the 2018 WPIAL season, and thus there were at least 121 quarterbacks that took to the field.
If we figure those that played are somewhat slanted toward being upperclassmen, it’s easy to figure that there are probably at least 50 WPIAL quarterbacks that have finished their high school playing careers and are ready to enter the collegiate recruiting Class of 2019.
While Western Pennsylvania has long been known as the Cradle of Quarterbacks due to Hall of Famers like Johnny Unitas, Joe Namath, Dan Marino, Jim Kelly and Joe Montana, that trend has slowed in recent years, with a greater focus placed on players on the defensive side of the ball.
But there are still plenty players capable of slinging it. Last year, Pine-Richland’s Phil Jurkovec was a four-star recruit and the consensus best player to come out of the region. After winning a state title game with the Rams, he matriculated to Notre Dame.
This season, there’s another top passer out of the WPIAL, that won a state title and is headed off to play quarterback at college, but he’s flown somewhat under the radar.
Penn Hills quarterback Hollis Mathis is set to sign with William and Mary on Wednesday, completing the recruiting process for the one and only WPIAL quarterback that’s been recruited to play the position at the Division I level in the Class of 2019.
Mathis, who stands at 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds, has a deep ball that’s worth drooling over, and the athleticism to escape from the pocket, extend plays and be an outright rushing threat on his own. He also has a Western Pennsylvania toughness that allows him to stand in the pocket and take a hit to make a pass or fight to the the extra yardage needed or a first down.
Don’t believe it? Check the tape.
He also has the mental aspect of the game down to the point that multiple schools sought him out to be the one quarterback they’re taking in this class.
“It’s an honor to be their guy,” Mathis said, while adding that he feels like there are other WPIAL quarterbacks such as South Fayette’s Jamie Diven, that are talented enough to get a shot.
Mathis finished his Penn Hills season with 2,800 yards on 268 attempts and 40 touchdowns, third-most in the WPIAL. He fielded early offers from Howard and St. Francis and gave his commitment to the Bison, with offensive coordinator Brennan Marion leading the charge to recruit the passer.
When Marion and head coach Mike London moved from Howard to William and Mary, it only took a visit to Williamsburg for Mathis to “fall in love” with his new home.
“I knew what I was going to get out of Coach Marion and Coach London,” Mathis said. “I knew that I liked those guys. But I wanted to go see if I liked the campus. I went down there and I really fell in love with the campus.”
Marion, a former Greensburg Salem star, had a ton of success recruiting to Howard out of the WPIAL, and Mathis thinks it’s only a matter of time before that success translates to his new home. He’s already the second player from Western Pennsylvania to commit to the Tribe, joining Jeannette receiver Marcus Barnes.
“There’s too many great players that get overlooked in the WPIAL,” Mathis said. “Coach Marion and Coach London found success with the guys they had at Howard.”
“We’ve got some things in the works.”