The Ligonier Valley football team lost a number of seniors from this past season – the most successful senior football class in school history – but the cupboard is far from bare.
Ligonier Valley’s Nick Beitel – son of head coach Roger Beitel – and Matthew Marinchak will both enter their junior seasons in the fall, and they’re both considered among the best high school football players in Pennsylvania in their class.
“Both of them played significant roles for us last year as sophomores,” Roger Beitel said. “We really think, considering what our roster makeup looks like for next year, because we’re only going to be returning two seniors, that we’re really going to count on guys like Matt and Nick.”
Pa. Preps, which covers Pennsylvania high schools for the nationally-known Rivals.com, listed Nick Beitel and Matthew Marinchak among the state’s top 275 high school juniors in the country.
Beitel and Marinchak, as sophomores, saw extensive time in a talented senior-laden lineup, which won 51 games at Ligonier Valley, more than any other class in school history. The Rams, who will play in the WPIAL in 2020, finished play in the District 6 Heritage Conference on a 37-game winning streak and reached the District 6 Class 2A championship game before falling to Richland. Ligonier Valley has 11 of the current seniors committed to playing college football.
“They got a lot of time with a really talented senior class to lean on,” Roger Beitel said. “When you’re a sophomore, and you’re able to get into a lineup that we had, that was as talented as we had with the senior class, it says a lot about their skillset.”
Beitel also singled out classmate Jude Grzywinski, who played on a senior-laden offensive line that included three Division I commits. The 6-foot-2, 270-pound Grzywinski was a center, playing alongside four teammates, who will play at the college level next season. Michael Petrof is headed to Navy, Christian Jablonski will play at Lehigh, Wylie Spiker at St. Francis and Alex Torrance is headed to St. Vincent College.
“I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Jude Grzywinski,” Beitel said. “Before we were quarantined, we had quite a few Division I schools who were in to take a look at his transcript and gather information on him. We’re really going to count on guys like Matt, Nick and Jude.”
Marinchak was also one of the top boys’ basketball players in the area this past season. He averaged 14.4 points per game on a team that won a third consecutive Heritage Conference title and lost to Richland in the District 6 Class 3A championship before falling to Carlynton in the opening round of the state basketball playoffs.
Marinchak was also a top receiver with the Rams last season. He caught 26 passes for 453 yards and a team-best eight touchdowns. He also picked off a pass and defended three others on the other side of the ball.
“Matthew worked really hard in the offseason, and then he was a top basketball player in the area on a really good team,” Beitel said.
Beitel said his son went to a power lifting camp last offseason and captured the top spot in the 165-pound division.
“The guy who finished in second place was 205 pounds behind his three-lift total,” Beitel said.
Nick Beitel also earned an invite to a nationally-renown EXOS Select 50 instructional football showcase, scheduled for this month in Texas. Because of PIAA restrictions, Beitel said his son is not permitted to participate in the showcase.
“As a coach and a father I’m super proud that Nick got recognition and a national invite to the EXOS camp because only 1,000 invites went out nationwide for that exposure camp,” Beitel said. “Hopefully, he will have other opportunities in the future. But getting an invite as one of the top 1,000 in the nation is an amazing honor.”
Kyrie Miller was the Rams’ big-play weapon at running back in 2019, finishing with 1,876 rushing yards and 31 rushing touchdowns, but Beitel was just as impressive in a limited role. Beitel rushed for 642 yards on 55 carries, an average of 11.7 yards per rush, which was highest on the team among players who had five or more touches. Beitel also scored 12 touchdowns, second-most behind Miller.
Defensively, Beitel made 35 total tackles, including 25 solo, while picking off four passes, defending six and forcing two fumbles.
“Considering how old and deep and talented we were last year with what we had in our senior class, the fact that any younger guys got playing time is remarkable,” Beitel said. “We definitely have some younger kids on this roster who are talented.”