Part-time starting experience last season crucial for development of Mt. Lebanon QB Seth Morgan
From the time we are children, the concept of sharing is something that is typically instilled on our respective psyches. But conversely, while athletics are often a metaphor for life, sharing is rarely something an athlete embraces.
Seth Morgan can relate.
A year ago, Morgan was thrust into action as Mt. Lebanon’s quarterback when starter James Stocker went down with an injury. Morgan did so well that when Stocker returned, the Blue Devils decided to go with a platoon system at quarterback, installing several packages that took advantage of Morgan’s speed and athleticism.
The sharing of the quarterback position worked out well for Mt. Lebanon, as Stocker and Morgan each passed for over 1,000 yards to lead the Blue Devils into the WPIAL playoffs. In his part-time role, Morgan threw for 1,202 yards and 11 touchdowns.
With Stocker having graduated, Morgan is Mt. Lebanon’s one-and-only starting quarterback this season, and the senior is taking full advantage. At the mid-point of the season, Morgan has thrown for 1,155 yards and eight TDs for the Blue Devils (3-3 overall, 3-2 in conference play).
“My expectations for myself were really high coming onto the season, because I’ve been here before,” Morgan said. “I think we handled things well last season, but knowing I was the starter this season took a weight off my shoulders. Coming into our Week Zero game this year, I felt ready after last season. I knew I could handle the pressure of being ‘the guy.’ ”
Morgan had somewhat of a baptism by fire last season, as his second varsity start came against eventual PIAA Class 6A champion Pine-Richland. Morgan responded by passing for 457 yards -- the sixth-highest total in WPIAL history -- in a 53-29 loss.
Based on what he saw a year ago, Mt. Lebanon coach Mike Melnyk had little doubt Morgan would be able to deliver as the full-time starter this season.
“He’s done an excellent job,” Melnyk said. “He’s made some big plays for us with both his arm and his feet. I definitely think last season helped him tremendously. We have high standards for our quarterbacks, and we ask him to do a lot of things -- pre-snap reads, reads after the snap. He’s mastering that. He puts a lot of pressure on himself to do well.”
Something Melnyk admits to using to his advantage.
“He’s a perfectionist and I think maybe I’m guilty of feeding into that sometimes,” Melnyk said. “I’m a perfectionist, too. We both have high standards, and sometimes we bump heads. Our quarterback coach, Casey Phillips, is a good buffer; he’s the good cop. But I know what Seth is capable of. Ultimately, we have the same expectations.”
“He’s hard on me, but I’m very hard on myself,” Morgan said. “He just wants me to be the best I can be out there. And he wants what’s best for the team. But when he sees me getting down on myself, he’s right there. At the end of the day it’s all out of love.”
Having an experienced quarterback was crucial for Mt. Lebanon this season. Realignment placed the Blue Devils into the newly-formed Class 6 Conference with perennial WPIAL powers Pine-Richland, Central Catholic and North Allegheny.
“I’ll put our schedule against anyone in Pennsylvania,” Melnyk said. “There are three of the top teams in the state, teams that have won state championships, in our conference. And no matter what happens in the regular season, if you make the playoffs you’re going to see those teams again.”
“You’ve got to be prepared every single game, every single play,” Morgan said. “Our goal this year is Heinz Field (site of the WPIAL title game). It’s Heinz or bust. This is a special team, and I know we have what it takes to get there.”
Despite Morgan’s gaudy statistics, Melnyk has an assessment of his quarterback that could prove un-settling for Mt. Lebanon’s future opponents.
“He hasn’t played his best football yet,” Melnyk said. “Seth just continues to get better. His ceiling has not been reached.”