Heading into the season, Bellwood-Antis first-year starting quarterback Seth Worthing and Blue Devils senior guard Keith Shawley made a wager: Every time Shawley's man sacked Worthing, the lineman owed his QB dinner, but every game Shawley's defender didn't touch Worthing, Worthing would have to buy.
Worthing might need to take a part-time job to pay off, but it also might be the best bet he ever made.
"He definitely won that. I plan on taking him out whenever we have a break," Worthing said.
While waiting for Worthing to come through on their dinner bet after giving up just one sack in 15 games, Shawley spent the season feasting on Bellwood's opposition. As the only senior and one of just two returning starters on the offensive line, Shawley quite literally paved the way from his guard spot for the Devils to set records for points and total yards while winning Inter-County Conference North Division and District 6 Class A championships en route to a 13-win season and a berth in the PIAA final four.
The 5-foot-11, 225-pound Shawley's performance was so noteworthy that it has earned him the Altoona Mirror's High School Football Player of the Year Award for the 2012 season.
"I knew as soon as I started playing high school football that I was a lineman. That's your position. You're getting hit every play. I knew I wasn't going to get much recognition for it. That's just the life of a lineman," Shawley said. "To actually get something like this, it's amazing."
With Shawley as the linchpin on the line, Bellwood rushed for almost 4,000 yards and each of the Blue Devils' top six ballcarriers averaged at least 4.6 yards per attempt, while Worthing was freed up to throw for close to 100 yards per game, too.
"He was dominant on both sides of the ball. Being the anchor of a line that was so green, he was kind of the cement and the glue and everything that kind of brought it all together," Bellwood coach John Hayes said. "He had a great year.
"I can't say enough good things about him."
As a defensive tackle, Shawley notched 119 tackles, seven sacks and three caused fumbles. In the PIAA quarterfinals, he blocked a field goal and an extra point against Delone Catholic, either of which would have lost the game for B-A had they been converted.
"He's kind of a natural," Hayes said.
Bellwood's power sweeps were tailor-made for Shawley, as he helped allowed Casey Gray to run for 1,885 yards, tying for tops in the area. Despite lacking overwhelming size, Shawley was just as effective blocking on the interior - it was his trap block that sprung Gray for the decisive 10-yard touchdown run in overtime against Delone, and, two weeks earlier in the District 6 semifinals against Bishop Guilfoyle, it was almost exclusively on that play that the Devils engineered a long scoring drive against the Marauders' imposing defensive front four to start the second half and take control of a tight contest.
"I had the most confidence in him," Worthing said. "Nobody has the athletic ability he has with the experience."
The king of area football during the season was the Blue Devils' clown prince during the campaign. Hayes credited Shawley's sense of humor with keeping everything loose as the team pursued its goals.
"Even Coach Hayes would crack a smile and laugh a bit," Worthing said. "It's his delivery that gets you."
Shawley's skills are no laughing matter, though. They've been honed since his dad, Richard, got him playing on the East Antis Rams, a team that one year only had 10 players and needed to get help from other teams to fill out the lineup.
Now colleges like St. Vincent, Washington & Jefferson and Lycoming are in contact to see about having Shawley help to fill out their lineups.
A year-round athlete at Bellwood-Antis, Shawley has gotten his senior year off to a tremendous start.
"I want to make [states] in every sport, football, wrestling and track," Shawley said, "so there's one off my list."