Now healthy, Central Valley quarterback George ‘hungry’ for win
John George’s senior season was nothing like he imagined it would be. However, there still is time for a perfect ending.
After filling in nicely when called upon his sophomore and junior seasons, George entered this year as the undisputed starting quarterback. In the very first game of the season at Montour, George suffered a high left-ankle sprain that dogged him for the entire regular season and into the playoffs.
After battling for years to claim his spot under center, George was understandably distressed.
“I was kind of sad and upset because it was my senior year and I was going to miss some time,” he said. “You don’t get to play high school again.”
George has made up for lost time the past two weeks. After being held out of the Warriors’ first-round rout of Laurel Highlands, George returned to help the top-seeded Warriors (12-0) beat Indiana, with 122 yards passing and three touchdowns, and Ringgold with 147 yards and one touchdown.
Sitting out, especially the first playoff game, was a blessing in disguise for George.
“I watched a lot more film and it made me hungry,” he said. “When I got back, it was like, ‘This is it. I don’t have that many (games) left.’ I was really excited to come back and play.”
Up next is a rematch of last season’s WPIAL Class AAA championship against West Allegheny, which the Indians won 16-6.
The Warriors defeated West Allegheny, 28-17, in the last week of the regular season to exact a measure of revenge.
“I love their quarterback,” West Allegheny coach Bob Palko said. “He’s a gritty kid. He’s going to find some way to win.”
George was on-point in that clash, throwing for 156 yards and score, while rushing for 61 yards and another touchdown.
“He’s a winner and you can tell the kids like to play with him,” Palko said.
George enjoys playing with his teammates as well, especially the offensive line, tight ends and backs that kept him from aggravating his injury any further.
“When I was hurt, they had to step their game up and protect me,” George said.
“Really, I don’t remember getting sacked too much this year.”
For the season, George, who also missed three regular-season games, has passed for 867 yards and 11 scores.
That puts him second on the team behind backup Chris Callaghan, who has thrown for 1,310 yards and 14 touchdowns.
But there’s no quarterback controversy at Central Valley — George is the guy. What helps separate him is the added dimension of a running game. He has 282 yards rushing this season, good for third on the team.
After following a less-than-desirable path to get to the championship game, George couldn’t be happier that he finally made it.
“This season wasn’t really how I planned and was hoping it would be with my health,” George said. “On another note, we are undefeated and we are playing for a (WPIAL) championship, which is the goal all along. I’ll take it.”
Ed Phillipps is a freelance writer.