Backup QB is key to War­riors vic­tory

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - High School Football - By Keith Barnes

Nico Mr­vos is not a quar­ter­back.

He’s re­ally not.

Or is he?

“I don’t know what I am hon­estly,” Mr­vos said laugh­ing. “I just go out there and play and do it for the team.”

He may not be a quar­ter­back by the strictest def­i­ni­tion, but when the El­iz­a­beth For­ward se­nior took snaps in the pis­tol for­ma­tion, he was the best play­maker the War­riors had and the one player Mount Pleas­ant couldn’t con­tain.

Split­ting time with fresh­man Ver­non Set­tles to fill in for in­jured start­ing quar­ter­back Evan Lewis, Mr­vos ran for one touch­down and passed for an­other to lead WPIAL Class 3A No. 3- ranked El­iz­a­beth For­ward ( 5- 0, 4- 0) to a 16- 14 vic­tory at No. 5 Mount Pleas­ant ( 4- 2, 4- 1) to take over sole pos­ses­sion of first place in the In­ter­state Con­fer­ence.

“Ver­non took a bunch of reps all week and I sort of have a 1- 2 punch with Nico Mr­vos go­ing in at quar­ter­back with Vern,” El­iz­a­beth For­ward coach Mike Col­lodi said. “I’m con­fi­dent in both of them. That’s why Vern’s out there. Even though he’s a fresh­man, he’s shown us he can do it.”

Set­tles played the en­tire first quar­ter, but with El­iz­a­beth For­ward fac­ing a fourth- and- 1 at its 30 on the first play of the sec­ond quar­ter, it was Mr­vos call­ing the sig­nals.

And he was up to the big- play chal­lenge.

Mr­vos took the di­rect snap, went up the mid­dle, cut to the left and out­raced the Mount Pleas­ant de­fense for a 70- yard touch­down that stunned the Vik­ings.

“In film study, when we spread out their de­fense, the mid­dle of their de­fense opened wide up,” Mr­vos said. “They called the play, I read the linebacker and, as soon as I saw it open up, I ran for the touch­down. It was fun.”

It was a dras­tic early turn events for Mount Pleas­ant.

Af­ter the open­ing kick­off the Vik­ings put to­gether a drive against an El­iz­a­beth For­ward de­fense that had al­lowed only 20 of points in its first five games to a first- and- goal at the War­riors 5. That drive stalled when a fum­bled snap and a hold­ing penalty led to a turnover on downs on a fourthand­goal from the 30.

“You can’t make mis­takes against a good team like that, and we thought we had a good plan and we were rolling and we set our­selves back,” Mount Pleas­ant coach Ja­son Fazekas said.

On the next Mount Pleas­ant drive, the team again moved in­side the El­iz­a­beth For­ward 30 but quar­ter­back Asher O’Con­nor threw an in­ter­cep­tion that stopped the drive.

“My hat goes off to Coach Fzekas be­cause they were do­ing things we hadn’t seen on film,” Col­lodi said. “We pre­pared for one thing all week and they came out and did some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent and, they got us and we had to make our ad­just­ments.”

Their best ad­just­ment was putting Mr­vos at quar­ter­back.

Af­ter that in­ter­cep­tion, Mr­vos capped the drive with his 70- yard touch­down run. He fin­ished with 14 car­ries for 140 yards and the score. He also helped put the game away early in the fourth quar­ter when, af­ter the Vik­ings Aaron Alak­son scored on a 49- yard run on the fi­nal play of the third quar­ter to close the gap to 10- 7 he com­pleted his first pass at­tempt of the game for a 67- yard touch­down to Zach Boyd just 1: 17 later to an­swer.

At that point it looked for all in­tents and pur­poses the game was over. Mount Pleas­ant turned the ball over on downs and had an in­ter­cep­tion that gave El­iz­a­beth For­ward the ball at the Vik­ings 40 with 4: 17 left. But on first down from the 23, DaVon­tay Brown­field fum­bled and Tyler Reese gave Mount Pleas­ant life as he raced 85 yards for the touch­down to close the gap to 16- 14 with 2: 29 re­main­ing in reg­u­la­tion.

Mount Pleas­ant failed to re­cover the on­side kick and, with a third- and- 10 from the Vik­ings 44, Mr­vos put it away with a 34- yard scam­per.

“Man, that came down to the wire,” Col­lodi said. “That was an exciting high school foot­ball game right there.”

Steph Cham­bers/ Post- Gazette

Ryan O’Hair re­acts af­ter South Fayette beat West Al­legheny, 38- 14, Fri­day night.

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