PENN HILLS Pa. — Central linebacker Anthony Speca displayed on Friday night against Penn Hills why he has 20 Division 1 offers. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound junior linebacker made plays sideline to sideline and blocked two field goals. He also had a sack on Penn Hills quarterback Julian Dugger.
Central barely defeated Penn Hills, as offensive lineman Anthony Shovlin made a heads-up play by picking up the loose ball after a blocked field goal and ran for a touchdown to win the game. With Central at 4-4, the Vikings pretty much need to win out to make the playoffs to avoid their first non-playoff season since 1999.
“I think everybody has to understand that in that locker room, on that field, we are taught that no matter what we are not giving up,” Speca said. “When our backs are against the wall, we are a wounded animal. There’s nothing worse than a wounded animal. I just think no matter what, we are fighting to the end.”
Trailing late, Dugger led Penn Hills down the field and finished a drive with a 30-yard touchdown pass to Amir Key. Dugger than rushed for the two-point conversion to put Penn Hills up 28-27 with 18 seconds remaining. Central managed to get to Penn Hills 32-yard line to set up a game-winning field goal for Rowen Kautter.
“Dugger made the throws. There’s nothing else you can do about that,” Speca said. “I mean, that route by Amir Key that scored, we were lost. They had us confused and they did a really good job coaching. I also think they did a great job playing to the final snap. I mean, they blocked that field goal. I think that was a great game by two teams who just have heart. They might have out-played us on that last drive.”
Speca is a four-star recruit and has offers from notable FBS powerhouse schools. Speca is a member of ESPN’s Top 300 in the class of 2024.
“I’ve been trying to dwindle down my list, but it’s been good. I got some good visits in,” Speca said about the recruiting process.
Speca has visited South Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Pitt (twice) and Tennessee.
“For me, personally, after I visit Penn State and Michigan, I’m going to close down my list and concentrate on these schools,” Speca said. “Publicly, it probably won’t be until after this season. I don’t really want to do that or make anything about myself. I just want to make sure our team stays on track.”
Speca was at the Pitt-West Virginia and Notre Dame-Ohio State game in September.
“The coaches were great, the games were great,” Speca said. “I mean, the Backyard Brawl was insane. Notre Dame-Ohio State was awesome, so it was just good. I mean, that’s what I wanted to see. I saw great defense. Great linebacker play. So, they definitely made it a hard decision for me.”