Last Updated: Thu Jan 13, 2022 - 2:48AM
It’s been an exciting year to be a part of the Penn-Trafford football program, and for one particular player it’s been especially exhilarating considering the recent news that he shared.
Senior lineman for the PIAA champion Warriors Garrett Moorhead recently made his decision on where he will be furthering his football career, Case Western Reserve University. Moorhead noted how he found similarities between the Penn-Trafford and Case Western football programs which both emphasize an important aspect in life... family.
“My connection with Coach (Derek) Slesh... we really connected well. I didn’t really feel that with any other coach or program that I visited,” said Moorhead. “I really loved the campus, I got to meet the head coach and it was just a great time. I felt like I was part of a family, kind of like what I had here at P-T.”
The road to the WPIAL and PIAA championships were not easy for Moorhead and the Warriors. After a strong 2-0 start to the season, Penn-Trafford dropped its following two games to Belle Vernon and Peters Township. The Warriors found themselves at a crossroads at that point and they had to overcome the early-season adversity.
“I think we had a young team, a lot of guys that were inexperienced and just some simple mistakes,” Moorhead said about the start to to the season. “It wasn’t anything that anyone was doing to us, it was more so the self-inflicted wounds that killed us early on.”
“Honestly those two losses were a blessing in disguise. It kind of humbled us and brought us together more than we already were and from there we took off.”
Moorhead had the pleasure of blocking for one of the top players in the state Wisconsin football commit Cade Yacamelli. Moorhead was part of a dominating line that carved out lanes throughout the year for Yacamelli to utilize, and it became the main staple of their offense.
“It was awesome. Cade (Yacamelli) is an outstanding athlete, but even more so he’s a better person. He does great in school, he’s an all-around a great guy. He’s one of my good friends and to see him take off on an 85-yard touchdown run. I take so much pride in blocking for him and make big plays like that happen.”
Penn-Trafford captured its first ever WPIAL championship when it topped Moon, 24-21, in the Class 5A final. It marked the fourth time in seven years that the Warriors played for a WPIAL title. After a back-and-forth battle, P-T came out victorious against the Tigers. But they knew business wasn't finished yet.
“It was everything and so much more, it was a dream come true," he said. "You set these expectations and you finally reach the goals it shows that the hard work that you put in paid off. Then to come back and see the community support us, it was the best ever to be honest.”
After the district championship, the Warriors stormed past Exeter, 49-14, in the PIAA Class 5A semifinal. It set up a showdown between Penn-Trafford and the No. 1 team in the state Imhotep Charter.
Moorhead and his teammates knew most people considered them to be big underdogs but they were able to use that to their mental advantage.
“It was a normal week of practice (leading up to the PIAA final). We went through our Monday through Thursday routine and there were some conversations amongst my teammates and I that we were saying 'why not us?'. “That really showed that we were here and that we deserved to be here and that we had an equal opportunity to win just like they did.”
It certainly was a hard fought battle between the two teams. The Warriors went into the halftime with a close 7-6 lead, however, Imhotep Charter started to climb its way back into the game and eventually pulled ahead 14-7 in the fourth quarter. The Warriors tied the game late after a Conlan Greene touchdown pass to Jack Jollie made the score 14-14 heading into overtime. Things didn’t go well for Imhotep Charter as the Warriors captured their first ever state championship thanks to a Nate Schlessinger game-winning field goal and a defensive stop on the Panthers ensuing drive.
“That whole night hasn’t even set in for me yet, I think about it every day,” Moorhead said. “It’s one of the proudest moments I have, just to be a part of something like that is amazing. It’s something that I will never forget for the rest of my life.”
Moorhead has been exposed to quite a bit of winning in his four years at Penn-Trafford. The Warriors posted a 39-9 record in Moorhead’s high school career and he knows he can bring that winning mentality with him to Case Western. He acknowledges that just like after they won the WPIAL this past season, he still has much more ahead of him as he prepares to play at the collegiate level.
Moorhead mentioned the values and traits that were instilled into him at Penn-Trafford will be immediately applied once he arrives at Case Western in the summer for training camp.
“It’s something that gets built into you when you go through a program like Penn-Trafford," he said. "I tend to be myself and I don’t want to do anything different and bring what I have to the table and push myself every day to be the best version of myself that I can be.”
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