"Going Camping" is Varsity Blog's tour of some high school football practices and camps in the area. Thursday's stop was at defending WPIAL Class AAA champ Montour.
But before we get to Montour, how about we touch on an interesting story at Monessen. Actually, it's fascinating to me. How many Division I college quarterback recruits do you think there are in the country who also play soccer? Meet Chavas Rawlins.
Rawlins is a 6-foot-4, 195-pound senior quarterback at Monessen High School. He has already made a verbal commitment to West Virginia, turning down other Division I scholarship offers. Now get this: Rawlins will also be playing soccer this season.
This isn't something new. He also played soccer last year for Monessen. Yes, there have been football players in the past who have played soccer. Most of them are kickers. Sometimes a position player in football will play soccer. But I never remember a future Division I college quarterback also choosing to play soccer. Why does Rawlins play soccer, too? Because he likes it.
And this isn't a story of a football player who only plays in the soccer games. This week, during long two-a-day football practices, Rawlins has found it in him to also attend a few soccer practices. Crazy, isn't it? But I give the kid a lot of credit. I think it's tremendous, and I think it's tremendous the coaches let it happen.
Rawlins is a well-spoken youngster who simply likes sports. At a smaller school like Monessen, the teams need all the athletes they can get.
On Monday and Wednesday of this week, Rawlins woke up early, went to two long football practices, and then attended a soccer practice at night. Wow.
"After football, we can't run as much as [soccer players], but the coach respects us and what we're trying to do," said Rawlins, who is a forward in soccer.
Rawlins' younger brother, Justice, also is playing soccer. Justice is a junior linebacker who also has a few Division I scholarship offers. Javon Brown, another Monessen football player, also is on the soccer team.
Chavas Rawlins will be the subject in the Post-Gazette's Blue Chip Chat series in tomorrow's paper. Today's subject was South Fayette's Zach Challingsworth, a Pitt recruit.
Now, "Going Camping" stops at ...
Devin Wilson (pictured) is one of the WPIAL's most versatile players. He's a standout receiver and defensive back at Montour who has been on the varsity since his freshman year. But who says an old dog can't learn a new trick? Wilson will also see some time at tailback this year.
"We'll put him at receiver, slotback, tailback," said Montour coach Lou Cerro. "When you graduate some great players like we did, you have to do those types of things."
Wilson welcomes playing some at tailback. He played the position in junior high.
"I think everyone knows we need to try and get him the ball as many times as possible," Cerro said. "I think he needs to get it maybe 20 times a game."**** When the subject is Wilson, many want to know about his recruiting situation. But he says he isn't close to choosing a college - or a sport, for that matter. Wilson also is an excellent point guard in basketball and has Division I scholarship offers in both sports. Drexel, St. Bonaventure and Hofstra offered him basketball scholarships this summer. Akron, James Madison and Robert Morris had offered previously.
Wilson also has scholarship offers in football from North Carolina State, Temple and Akron. (Wilson is pictured talking some strategy with a teammate during a break from practice).
"I really have no timetable right now," Wilson said. "I'm kind of just letting everything come to me. It's totally up in the air right now."
**** Here is a game to watch this season: Montour vs. Central Valley in Week 2. It's a Thursday night game on Root Sports TV. It will be Wilson against Central Valley stud receiver-defensive back Robert Foster.
One of the knocks against Wilson is his speed. At a combine this spring, his 40 time was not very good.
"I don't know what it was, but it wasn't that good," Wilson said.
But he believes he has proven he can cover fast receivers.
**** Montour is the defending WPIAL Class AAA champion, but lost some key players to graduation, most notably QB Dillon Buechel and RB Julian Durden.
This team will have a different style.
"It's not like we're going to be throwing the ball over the place this year, throwing it 50 yards," Cerro said. "We'll run the ball, have more intermediate passing. Our line is pretty good. We average 260 across the front."
**** Two of Montour's linemen are Temple recruits. The funny thing is both committed elsewhere first, and then chose Temple. Matt Barone, recruited to play center and guard at Temple, originally committed to Connecticut and then chose Temple.
"What really changed my mind was that it was just too far," Barone said of Connecticut. "It was an 11-hour ride. My family couldn't come see me. I just decided to stay in PA."
Tyler Haddock, recruited by Temple to play nose guard, originally committed to Kent State, only to choose Temple.
"I just wanted to play at a higher level, and I wanted to play for Temple," Haddock said. "I was always with Temple, but they just never pulled the trigger [with a scholarship]. They wanted me to perform at camp first. That's when I got the offer."
Haddock (pictured to the right) and Barone both believe Montour shouldn't be counted out of the WPIAL championship race just because it lost some key players.
"We're expecting to get to the same place we were before," Haddock said. "This team still has a lot of firepower."
Barone said, "People outside see we lost a lot of athletes. They don't realize our line that is coming back. It's big, strong and fast. I think we can go a long way with that. Our defense is good, too. Teams aren't going to score a lot of points on us."
*** Who will be Montour's quarterback? It's a three-horse race right now. Senior Ryan Mihelcic, junior Tynen Green and senior Max Rosinsky are vying for the position. Greer transferred from Shenango last November and Rosinsky from West Allegheny."All three can run," Cerro said.
**** Construction is going on across the street from Montour's stadium. Among other things, the school is building a new gymnasium.
"It's going to be something," Cerro said of the gym. "It's going to have 1,500 seats and all chairbacks. No bleachers."
**** Below is a mob scene - or celebration scene. After practice, the team lined up in the end zone to run sprints, like the players always do after practice. Right before they started, Cerro yelled for them to go to lunch. No running. It touched off a celebration.