Hollidaysburg seniors set bar high

Photo for the Mirror by Curt Werner Hollidaysburg senior QB Brady Walters tries to get around Archbishop Wood’s George Mazzacano.

HERSHEY — With 5:28 left in Friday’s PIAA Class 5A quarterfinal playoff game, Hollidaysburg senior Brady Walters checked out of the game for the final time and had some words of encouragement for his replacement, Rocco Grassi.

Just two years earlier, as the Golden Tigers were staring down a playoff loss to Grove City, it was Walters who was the young quarterback checking in for some experience.

“It means a lot, because it’s not about one individual,” said Walters, whose team fell to Archbishop Wood, 38-7, at Henry Hershey Field. “The program is a lot bigger than any individual themselves, so it’s really nice to see the guys who are going to play next year get a chance to get out there and begin the process of making this run continue.”

During his time as Hollidaysburg’s starter, Walters helped the Golden Tigers advance to the PIAA quarterfinals twice and gained more than 5,000 total yards.

“What really stands out to me is in junior high, I didn’t have a lot of success,” Walters said. “I got a lot of help from my teammates and coaches, and they’ve been a great supporting cast for me. So, without all the guys around me, I wouldn’t have been able to do any of the things I achieved.”

That support system is something Walters has passed along with the rest of his senior class. Though Hollidaysburg started just three underclassmen Friday, coach Homer DeLattre said his program is in great shape for the future.

“I have no worries about what the future holds, even though we are losing a lot of guys,” DeLattre said. “The impact these guys have had on the younger players, even down to junior high and youth football, is really unmatched.”

Also unmatched, at least in school history, is what the group of seniors accomplished on the field.

“It means a lot to this senior class to be the first team to win three playoff games,” Hollidaysburg’s Jake Sensenig said. “It’s huge for us, but I’m going to miss playing with this team. These guys are my brothers for life. I love them all.”

The seniors were District 6 5A champions as sophomores and have won the District 6-8-10 subregional the past two seasons.

“I’m so proud of everything we accomplished,” Hollidaysburg senior Mason McCready said. “The whole team, whole program has come so far. When Coach DeLattre first came in, we were in a little bit of a rut, and everyone bought in. Underclassmen have seen us buy in, and it has turned the program around in a huge way.”

Though McCready, who will wrestle for Division I Bucknell in college, was dealing with the end of his high school football career, his thoughts were already on the future of the program.

“They know the standards, and they know what they need to do to get better,” McCready said. “They just need to keep working hard. I have no doubt in my mind that they’ll be right back here next year. I think they are going to go further than us. I want them to go further. I want every class to keep getting better and for this program to keep growing.”

As the Golden Tiger seniors posed for photos on the field after the game, it was obvious the memories they provided to their community will last whether it was caught on film or not.

“The senior leadership has had a huge impact on the program,” DeLattre said. “They came in when the program was struggling a little bit, and they ended with a large amount of wins and a lot of records. They impact these guys have left on our program is really unmatched.”