South Fayette grad Saxton leads Case Western Reserve as they chase W&J in PAC
All quarterback Drew Saxton wanted when he chose Case Western Reserve to play college football was a chance to start.
The 2018 South Fayette grad did something only he expected: start and have a record freshman season.
“He exceeded our expectations,” Case Western Reserve coach Greg Debeljak said Tuesday at the annual Presidents’ Athletic Conference football media day at Saint Vincent. “His development in high school was crucial.
“That program did a great job preparing him. We put a lot on him, and he was more than prepared to handle it.”
Saxton completed 221 of 354 passes for 3,033 yards, 34 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
His top receiver also returns. Junior Colt Morgan caught 79 passes for 1,094 yards and 18 touchdowns.
“It was a little surprising,” Saxton said about his season. “The idea of a true freshman starting at any position let alone quarterback, it’s out there. It doesn’t happen a lot.
“When you have confidence in your skill set, I had confidence, and I trusted my coaches and what they were teaching me. I had a good year, and it was fun and I’m glad to get back.”
Saxton said he attributes a lot of his success to his coaches at South Fayette. And while Saxton had a good season, he is eager to improve.
He plans to work on his decision-making and eliminate his freshman mistakes.
“As a quarterback, you have to know every position on the field,” he said. “You have to work as one cohesive unit, and that comes along with communication.”
And Saxton was a little surprised how much talent there is in the conference and Division III overall.
“The overall athletic ability of players was a shock,” Saxton said. “You get teams like Westminster and W&J, they have D-I talent at every position.
“Maybe they were a step slower or didn’t have the grades, but they can play football. Even on our team, there are kids who can play at a larger place, but they ended up here.”
Case Western Reserve, which finished 8-2 overall and 7-2 in the PAC, is picked second in the conference behind Washington & Jefferson.
The Presidents received 23 of 31 first-place votes from media, coaches and sports information directors and are favored to win the conference title for the 27th time.
Washington & Jefferson received 298 points. Case Western Reserve received six first-place votes and 277 points, and Westminster received the other two first-place votes and had 241.
The reigning two-time champion Presidents return six offensive and seven defensive starters from a team that finished 9-2 overall and 8-1 in the conference.
It marks the 11th time since 2000 that W&J was selected as the preseason favorite. The Presidents will be looking for their first conference three-peat since winning titles in 2012-14.
“Things fell in place for us to win the conference last year,” W&J coach Mike Sirianni said. “We were able to accomplish goals we set.”
Rounding out the poll were Grove City in fourth, Carnegie Mellon in fifth, Bethany sixth, Waynesburg seventh, Geneva eighth, Saint Vincent ninth and Thiel 10th.
Saint Vincent and Thiel have new coaches: Aaron Smetanka for the Bearcats, and Mike Winslow for Thiel.
Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .