Gorman: Sto-Rox QB takes aim at record book
Lenny Williams has heard all about his shortcomings at quarterback.
If he wasn't being deemed a dual threat with a tendency to tuck and run, he was too short to pass out of the pocket.
Now the Sto-Rox senior can point to the WPIAL record books as proof that he was meant to play football's most prominent position.
Williams broke one WPIAL all-time record Friday night, throwing three touchdown passes in a 56-14 victory over Union, and is poised to add another. He stands only 96 yards shy of becoming the WPIAL all-time leading passer.
“I have a chip on my shoulder almost every day about (the record),” he said. “You have that on your resume. Yes, I am 5-11, but I can still throw it just as good as anyone.”
Soon, Williams can add that he threw for more yards and touchdowns than anyone in the history of Western Pennsylvania, long regarded as the cradle of quarterbacks.
Williams needed 257 yards and three touchdowns to break the marks of 7,162 yards and 88 touchdowns set by Christian Brumbaugh of South Fayette in 2010.
This record-setting run was nearly jeopardized in August when Williams, working for Stowe Township, accidentally sliced open the index finger on his left hand with hedge clippers. The injury required surgery to repair a tendon and 35 stitches to close the wound. Williams still doesn't have complete feeling in the finger.
Despite missing training camp, Williams returned in time to play the season opener. He's been unstoppable since.
“I've been part of this team for four years. To not play part of my senior season would have been devastating,” Williams said. “I needed to get back out there.”
Williams is the third passer to break the record with Sto-Rox second-year coach Dan Bradley calling the offense.
Bradley was offensive coordinator for Sto-Rox when Adam DiMichele broke the mark set by Steel Valley's Luke Getsy in 2003 and for South Fayette when Brumbaugh broke DiMichele's mark.
“It's great to see. The quarterback gets the headlines, but it's truly a team accomplishment, to be able to have the receivers, the run game, the line that all complement each other,” Bradley said. “They're all great leaders, they're smart, and they have a presence about them on the field, in the locker room and in the weight room that just exudes confidence and leadership.”
To complicate matters, Bradley is married to Getsy's sister, Jen, who gives him grief about breaking her brother's record and continually pushing him down the WPIAL passing leaders list.
Not that it was planned.
Williams never played quarterback until his freshman year. By the second game, he was starting at Sto-Rox. The past two seasons, Williams led the Vikings to the WPIAL Class A final at Heinz Field.
“Lenny's ultra-competitive — which they all are — but more so within himself,” Bradley said. “He's definitely a quarterback, but he breaks tackles, stiff-arms people and is a physical runner for a quarterback.”
Williams displayed those traits early against Union, running for a 16-yard touchdown on his first possession.
Sto-Rox led 16-0 before Williams completed his first pass. That went for a 32-yard touchdown to Mallory Claybourne, who also caught the 33-yarder that moved Williams past Montour grad Dillon Buechel for second place in the WPIAL.
A 37-yard scoring pass to Claybourne tied the WPIAL touchdown record with 54 seconds left in the first quarter. Williams then eluded two defenders before finding Elisha Bonner on a 5-yard pass to set the mark at 8:09 of the second.
Williams threw an interception late in the half and entered halftime 157 yards shy of the passing yards mark. Sto-Rox was forced to punt for the first time this season in the third quarter, then relied on tailback Brendan Blair.
With the mercy rule and a running clock in effect, Bradley pulled Williams early in the fourth quarter. He finished 8 of 14 for 161 yards passing.
For Williams, it was one WPIAL record down, one to go.
“It feels good to be able to have my name in the categories I'm in now,” he said. “It's just another way of showing that I can throw, too. I'm almost the leading passer in the WPIAL, so I must be able to throw the ball a little bit.”
For the record, Lenny Williams can throw the ball.
And not just a little bit.