DY­NAMIC DUO

JUDGE, AUSTIN LEAD SPAR­TANS INTO D2 CLASS 5A TI­TLE GAME. G3

Gameface - - FRONT PAGE - By Steve Ben­nett Staff Writer sben­nett@cit­i­zensvoice.com 570-821-2062, @CVSteveBen­nett

Apart from one an­other, they are two of the most com­pet­i­tive in­di­vid­u­als in the WVC.

For awhile, that­was ex­actly what Aaron Austin and Sean Judge were. They­were op­po­nents un­til they both joined forces in mid­dle school.

Rest as­sured, each one knew about the other. Whether it was Lit­tle League, mini-foot­ball or bas­ket­ball, they were op­po­nents look­ing to get the best of one an­other.

Once Judge trans­ferred to Val­ley West from Good Shep­herd, they be­came team­mates and best friends.

To­gether, they are a huge rea­son why Val­ley West is 20-3 over the last two sea­sons head­ing into tonight’s Dis­trict 2 Class 5A cham­pi­onship game against Abing­ton Heights at Spar­tan Sta­dium.

“We met in mid­dle school. We were hang­ing out all sum­mer and be­came good friends,” Austin said. “We al­ways played bas­ket­ball, base­ball and foot­ball against each other.”

In their fi­nal year of Lit­tle League, Austin’s West Side Lit­tle League team beat Judge’s Kingston squad 6-5 for the league cham­pi­onship.

“They were like on their 10th pitcher,” Judge said. “There were two outs and Iwas on deck. The kid in front of me popped out.”

Judge also re­mem­bers that grow­ing up Austin was the only one he couldn’t out run.

It wasn’t un­til some­time in mid­dle school that Judge got faster and was able to fi­nally get the best of Austin.

Both have­made an im­pact on the Val­ley West pro­gram. Judge came up as a fresh­man and saw lim­ited ac­tion. Austin be­came a var­sity player his sopho­more year and had a lim­ited role.

Ev­ery­one un­der­stood that the quar­ter­back’s job was Austin’s to lose head­ing into last sea­son.

For Judge, his speed and elu­sive­ness is what gets him by. Get him the ball and he is a threat to score any­time from any place on the field.

“I knew I would be de­cent at foot­ball,” Judge said. “I didn’t think I would score as much as I have or have as many yards. I was kind of in awe as it un­folded. I didn’t think when I started I would ac­com­plish what I have.”

Judge has scored 70 ca­reer touch­downs, has rushed for 2,799 yards and has 1,474 ca­reer re­ceiv­ing yards.

Austin needs 9 yards pass­ing to reach 3,000 for his ca­reer with all but 20 com­ing dur­ing his ju­nior and se­nior year. He has also rushed for 1,460 yards.

“It’s been pretty great ac­tu­ally,” Austin said. “My sopho­more year I didn’t have much of a role un­less some­body got hurt. My ju­nior year I stepped in as the starter. Now this year is kind of what I ex­pected.”

Al­though this year didn’t start out that way. The Val­ley West of­fen­sive line was in­ex­pe­ri­enced with the ex­cep­tion of Chris Ble­ich and Bry­don Ruk­stalis. There were mis­takes made and penal­ties com­mit­ted which re­sulted in the clock in Austin’s head to start tick­ing faster than he wanted.

But af­ter the fourth game of the sea­son that all changed. Austin be­gan to get more time in the pocket, and Judge was do­ing his best to get open.

“Com­ing into the sea­son, hon­estly, I didn’t know how the sea­son would go,” Judge said. “We knew we had a tough sched­ule. There were a lot of new kids that I never ac­tu­ally played with. The be­gin­ning of the sea­son was rough, they set­tled in and got used to the speed of the game.”

Austin and Judge had no such is­sues. They have been on the same page for the last two years.

Take for ex­am­ple the first pos­ses­sion of the Cough­lin game in Week 10. Austin was chased from the pocket and was scram­bling. He looked left, saw Judge, and 53 yards later Val­ley West was ahead by a touch­down.

Some­times, when Judge is lined up on the out­side, all it takes is a look.

“It’s good to have him,” Austin said. “I know I rely on him quite a bit. I know if I throw some­thing up that he will go and get it.”

DAVE SCHERBENCO / THE CIT­I­ZENS’ VOICE

Val­ley West’s Sean Judge, left, and Aaron Austin have been the key com­po­nents to the Spar­tans’ of­fense the last two sea­sons.

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