Chartiers Valley grad plays his way into Geneva record books
Corey O'Patchen remembers looking through the Geneva football media guide when he arrived as a freshman and being in awe of what the all-time great Golden Tornado wide receivers achieved.
Four years later, his accomplishments will be remembered alongside those athletes.
“I remember seeing their numbers on the career record list and thinking it was a lot of yards,” O'Patchen said. “Then, four years flew by, and I am right there. I feel honored to be on the same lists as those players.”
The Chartiers Valley graduate finished his college career with 144 receptions, 2,311 yards and 24 touchdowns.
Those totals put him as No. 3 in career touchdown receptions and No. 4 in career receiving yards and pass receptions on the Golden Tornadoes' all-time lists.
It wasn't always easy for O'Patchen to be a playmaker for Geneva. He said during his freshman season, he got playing time, but the ball wasn't being thrown inh is direction. But during a game against Grove City, things started to change.
“I caught a few passes and made stuff happen,” O'Patchen said. “That game gave me a confidence that helped me take my game to a new level.”
O'Patchen finished his freshman season with 21 receptions and 219 yards. He saw a spike in production in his sophomore seasons, finishing with 35 receptions, 754 yards and 10 touchdowns.
One of the greatest challenges for O'Patchen the past two years was the change in the offensive philosophy. The Golden Tornadoes began running a two-quarterback system — junior Zack Hayward was brought in as a passer, whereas junior Rocco Colavecchia was used as more of an option quarterback.
“It was difficult knowing that one guy I would have to strictly be a blocker, while the other guy I would have to run downfield and catch passes,” O'Patchen said. “It worked out pretty well, though. The toughest thing was building chemistry.”
O'Patchen said to overcome the hurdle, the offense would stay after practice and meet up in the summer to build connections with both quarterbacks.
O'Patchen finished with 34 receptions for 505 yards and seven touchdowns in 2011 and finished this season with 54 receptions for 833 yards and seven touchdowns.
It was a tough season for the Golden Tornadoes as they finished 3-7 overall and 3-5 in the Presidents' Athletic Conference. Four of the losses were decided by a touchdown or less, and two came in overtime.
“Sometimes the ball doesn't bounce your way,” O'Patchen said. “We lost some tight games we probably should have won.”
The season ended on a high note as Geneva defeated Westminster (Pa.), 33-14. O'Patchen had eight catches for 108 yards and a touchdown in his final game with the Golden Tornadoes.
“It felt really good to go out and get the win against a rival,” O'Patchen said.
O'Patchen said while his college career has been an exciting journey, the success he had will be a small part of what he takes away from it. He's more focused on the relationships he built along the way.
“Just meeting my teammates will last with me the rest of my life,” O'Patchen said. “I met guys who have become my best friends. These are guys that will be in my wedding someday.
“Football is just a game. I will know these guys a lot longer.”
Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-388-5813.