By Matt Popchock
This week’s First Commonwealth Athlete of the Week is Dillon Buechel, a junior quarterback for the Montour football team.
He was not old enough to play on the varsity squad when the Spartans agreed to participate in the reality series “Bound for Glory,” but with the program back in the spotlight for all the right reasons, Buechel has a chance to lead them to genuine glory after yet another terrific performance last Friday.
Buechel was a very efficient 10-of-15 for 225 yards and threw four touchdown passes in a decisive 35-14 victory over No. 4 seed Mars in the WPIAL Class AAA Semifinals at Chartiers Valley High School.
Top-seeded Montour, now a perfect 12-0, advances to the Class AAA Championship, where it will face first-year phenom Central Valley with a chance to win its fifth WPIAL football title in history and first since 1964. It will be the first Heinz Field appearance for the Spartans since a shutout loss to Thomas Jefferson in 2007.
The Parkway Conference champions took the lead, a lead they would never relinquish, with under five minutes left in the first quarter, when Buechel hurled the first of his touchdowns, a 48-yarder to fellow junior Darren Massey, for a 7-0 advantage punctuated by Lucas Tournay’s extra point.
An Austin Miele touchdown run and failed P.A.T. cut it to 7-6 a short time later, but Buechel gave the Spartans breathing room midway through the second quarter when he hit Massey again, this time from 46 yards out, for his second TD. The leading passer in the classification wasn’t done yet, as Buechel hooked up with Aaron McGee for a 64-yard scoring bomb with two minutes left in the half, and Tournay’s kick made it 21-6 Montour.
In the second half the teams traded touchdowns, then Buechel found Devin Wilson from ten yards away for one last score within the last four minutes of the game, with another extra point by Tournay providing the final margin.
Buechel is the second-leading QB in the WPIAL with 2,091 overall yards. Through 12 games this season he has completed 140 of 227 attempts for 24 touchdowns, which adds up to a 61.7 completion percentage and a passer rating of 120. In just his second year as starter, he only needs 37 yards to reach 4,000 for his career.
For more of the latest news and views on and off the gridiron be sure to tune into the next edition of The Post-Gazette High School Football Show Presented by First Commonwealth Bank, live from Heinz Field this Saturday morning 7:00-9:30, on SportsRadio 93.7 The Fan and 937thefan.com!