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Injured quarterback returns to lead Central Valley

| Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, 8:55 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Central Valley quarterback Nathan Climo works out Monday, Aug. 12, 2013, in Center Twp.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Central Valley's Jordan Whitehead works out Monday, Aug. 12, 2013, in Center Twp.

Central Valley quarterback Nathan Climo doesn't dwell much on the hit that ended his junior season.

With his arms left tingling, he was rushed by ambulance and then by helicopter to a hospital with concussion-like symptoms caused by a soft-tissue injury to his neck.

There was serious concern that night in October. But now months later, those worries are gone and Climo has reclaimed his starting spot.

“I'm very anxious, but I'm ready,” he said. “I've been waiting since October. I just can't wait until we're kicking off on Friday nights.”

The Week 9 injury kept Climo sidelined in the playoffs, where Central Valley eventually lost in overtime to West Mifflin, 36-35, in the semifinals.

With their primary quarterback again healthy and a roster deep with skill-position players, the Warriors expect another postseason run despite the graduation of Alabama recruit Robert Foster.

“It hurt,” said Climo of watching last year's playoffs, “especially the ending. Overtime loss. One point away from Heinz Field. That makes you stronger and come together as a team.”

A year ago, the 6-foot-3 Climo passed for 1,080 yards and 10 touchdowns. Beyond his passing performances, Climo's coach praised the three-sport athlete's demeanor and calming effect on others.

“He's all about making our team better,” coach Mark Lyons said. “He feels like not being there in that run, he missed out on an opportunity. But he was probably one of our better coaches for our backup (junior John George), who did a great job. That's what kind of kid he is.”

The Warriors also return junior Jordan Whitehead, a running back and defensive back with major Division I offers. In the backfield along with Whitehead (6-0, 170), who rushed for more than 900 yards, will be senior JaQuan Pennington (5-5, 150), who neared 600 rushing yards last year.

The Warriors also return senior running back Ricky Zuk and junior running back Ryan Roberson. Joining the backfield is junior Preston Johnson, a transfer from Rochester who also plays linebacker.

The primary wideouts are senior Anthony Williams and junior B.J. Powell.

“This may sound crazy,” Lyons said. “We lost a guy like Foster, but we may be deeper athletically. Take him out of the equation, and we've got a lot of our skill positions back. I'm excited about the depth we have. We don't have to rely or tax a lot of guys going both ways.”

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