Sophomore quarterback leading high-flying Lions offense
Quarterback Brett Brumbaugh started the final three games of the 2011 season for South Fayette as an inexperienced freshman.
One year later, he looks like a battle-tested veteran.
The sophomore helped lead the South Fayette football team to a 9-0 regular season and wins over Freedom and Beaver Falls in the WPIAL Class AA playoffs.
Along the way he has thrown for 2,583 yards and 36 touchdowns.
“He will do something and it makes you shake your head when you realize he is still a 15-year-old sophomore,” South Fayette coach Joe Rossi said. “He got the initial starts out of the way last season and he is playing with confidence now.
“He gets better everyday.”
The early success by the youngster didn't come as a surprise to many who follow WPIAL football. Brett's older brothers have been a staple of WPIAL headlines with Christian – now a quarterback at William and Mary – breaking WPIAL records as the South Fayette quarterback from 2008 to 2010 and Luke leading the offense at Seton-La Salle the past two seasons.
The Lions got the better of the Rebels this season in a 51-12 blowout.
“I just wanted to be like my older brothers,” Brumbaugh said. “I always wanted to be like them since I was a young kid.
“They've been great role models. I wanted to be like them anyway I could.”
South Fayette has had three undefeated regular seasons over the past four seasons with each squad having a Brumbaugh under center – Christian in 2009 and 2010 and Brett in 2012.
The 2011 squad went 6-3.
The experience Brumbaugh got last season has helped his development.
He picked up a 2-1 record – including a 24-14 playoff win over Beaver Falls – after starting quarterback John Lerda suffered an injury. late in week eight. Brumbaugh finished with 606 yards and seven touchdowns during his short freshman season.
“It helped my confidence,” Brumbaugh said. “If I made a mistake, I learned to move forward. It gave me game time experience and prepared me to come out and compete.”
His maturation from last year to this season is noticeable. Brumbaugh threw nine interceptions in his three starts last season.
In 2012, he has thrown only seven through 11 games.
“Any young player is going to make mistakes,” Rossi said. “But he'll learn. He is only going to get better.”
Brumbaugh has been the field general of an dominating Lions offense.
The unit has scored more than 40 points in every game and topped 50 in six games. At the end of the regular season, South Fayette was the top team in total yards in Class AA with 3,763 yards gained.
The squad only trailed Class A's Imani Christian and Class AAAA's North Allegheny in total offense at the end of the 2012 season.
Brumbaugh's top target have been senior receiver and Pitt commit Zach Challingsworth, who has recorded 1,082 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns.
Junior Justin Watson has also been a top target with 542 receiving yards and eight touchdowns, and Conner Beck had added 454 yards and four touchdowns.
The offensive line has helped Brumbaugh find success, giving up only three sacks during the season.
“They don't get the credit they deserve,” Brumbaugh said. “They have done a great job all season. I feel comfortable and don't need to rush my throws.
“I don't get worried about getting sacked. I know they have my back.”
Brumbaugh said he is still working hard on improving his game, including working on his footwork and making the best reads on his passes.
“He is such a competitor that whatever we ask him to work on, he will,” Rossi said. “He has a drive to get better.”
It has been an impressive season for the Lions gunslinger so far but as far as he is concerned, the best is yet to come.
“The main goal is to get to Heinz Field,” Brumbaugh said. “That is all that matters.”
Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-388-5813.