Athletes from 2 sports key to success for Westmoreland County men’s football playoff teams

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Thursday, October 20, 2022 | 11:01 a.m.


Robbie Labuda threw his gym bag in the car and drove off. One hour drive to McGuffey for an expected football game.

The Mt. Pleasant eldest barely had time to take off his soccer cleats after practice, but once he did, his foot was planted on the gas pedal.

The dual-sport athlete had to scramble.

“Football ended at 6. (Football started at 7.30),” Labuda said. “I barely arrived in time.”

Labuda is one of many local athletes who play two sports during this fall season.

However, they are ready to put a full-time effort into a football playoff run when the WPIAL playoffs begin this weekend.

Other bisport athletes include:

• Jake Kimmich, a Franklin Regional senior (13-4) who, when not returning balls to opposing attacks, hits fairways and greens for the golf team.

Panthers sophomore Joey Bayne is a key member of the football team and kicks for the football team.

• Freshman Jordan Mocello also split his time between football and golf at Belle Vernon (13-3). He helped the golf team to a second-place finish in the WPIAL in Class 2A, its best result to date. He is a striker/defender for the football team.

• Penn-Trafford (9-8-1) has senior Logan Swartz, who also kicks for the Warriors football team.

• The same goes for Burrell junior Ryan Croushore, a goaltender and placekicker for the Bucs. The Bucs (14-3) made the playoffs in their first Class A season.

• Greensburg Central Catholic senior Wade Boyle and freshman Cole Zubaty (13-1) also play golf. Wade will be part of two playoff teams. The golf team made the WPIAL final and the Centurions were set for a weak football seed.

Labuda is unique because he’s a running back – the leading running back in Westmoreland County, in fact, with over 1,000 yards – and not a kicker, the traditional position for football players.

“The biggest challenge is finding time for school and other activities while going to practices and games for both,” Labuda said. “Recovery time is a bit different, but I try to do everything I can to keep my legs ready and avoid injuries.”

Labuda, a longtime club player who hopes to qualify for the football and soccer playoffs, said two sports have been part of his annual routine for years. That’s what he knows and loves.

“I’ve played both since I was young and really enjoy them, so it’s hard not to play both,” Labuda said. “What really motivates me is playing alongside all the people I’ve played with for so long.”

Mt. Pleasant football coach Floyd Snyder half-jokingly said he wanted to hide Labuda until the playoffs. Now that seems impossible with more films about Class 2A Vikings (8-7-2) and No. 17, a key element of the attack.

Kimmich showed his dual affiliations during a recent football game. He scored a goal and recognized his other favorite sport with a celebration of the golf swing.

He swung in the air and held the track, watching an imaginary golf ball hover towards the parking lot as a real soccer ball bounced into the string.

“I definitely had that in mind,” Kimmich said. “I was talking with Sam Dawson before the game and I was like, ‘If I score, I’m going to have this party.’ In fact, I almost forgot when I scored, but Sam reminded me.

Kimmich’s brother, Luke, also played soccer and golf for the Panthers. He continues to do both in Grove City, where Jake plans to go to college. He can, however, just play football for the Wolverines.

With Franklin Regional’s golf season over, soccer becomes Kimmich’s priority.

“It was exhausting doing two sports, but it was worth it,” he said. “I would leave school and come home, eat and change, then head to the golf course for a game. As soon as that was done, I either headed for soccer practice or a game. I had to miss a few golf games during the season because football was interfering, but both my football and golf coaches were very understanding of my situation.

“The whole mindset is definitely on football in hopes of making a long playoff run.”

Mocello is part of a young Belle Vernon football team that, like the golf team, has won a section title.

“He is dedicated and determined to improve,” Leopards football coach Al Yeschenko said. “He often shows up to football practice in his golf gear, gets changed and he’s on the pitch in seconds.

“I see it as a major part of our future success.”

Swartz had a hat trick on a Thursday and had a field goal and several extra points on a Friday night.

“He has a tremendous work ethic and is a great student-athlete,” Penn-Trafford football coach Sotiri Tsourekis said. “He is a young man of few words, a quiet leader, who expresses himself on the football pitch with a high level of skill and creativity.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is an editor of the Tribune-Review. You can contact Bill by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

Key words: Burrell, Franklin Regional, Greensburg CC, Mt. Pleasant, Penn-Trafford

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