15 June 2010
Anthony Gonzalez wore a white No. 8 jersey, but it might as well have been a bold "S" across his chest as far as his coach was concerned. Gonzalez's interception in the end zone capped an overtime thriller just minutes after the junior scored the go-ahead touchdown on offense on fourth-and-goal from the 1 on a quarterback keeper to give Bethlehem Liberty a 28-21 victory over Bethel Park to win the PIAA Class AAAA football crown on Saturday night. Coach Tim Moncman would have given his star player a red cape, too, if he had one. "What do you call him? He's Superman," Moncman said.That's quite the praise, even if it is from his own high school coach. But then again, that's what happens when you throw for 1,570 yards, run for 1,697, make the game-winning play in the AAAA state championship and are named the PIAA Player of the Year. And that's exactly what Bethlehem Liberty High School's Anthony Gonzalez did as a junior.
Gonzalez accounted for all 4 of Liberty's touchdowns and made a game ending interception in the 2008 AAAA PIAA Championship game.Although I admit I don't follow Eastern PA high school football, from all accounts, Gonzalez gaudy numbers don't do him justice. From being considered a once-in-a-decade player to drawing comparisons to Tim Tebow, Gonzalez appears to be one of the most accomplished and hyped recruits of the Dave Wannstedt Era. Much of the hype surrounds his junior season, where Gonzalez lead the team to an undefeated season at quarterback and at safety. Although Liberty is by all accounts a very talented team (Pitt RS freshman WR Devin Street was a part of the championship team), there was never any doubt who's team it was:
"That was sort of the plan coming in -- to let [Gonzalez] carry us," Moncman said. "He's a special kid, a special football player. When he broke that first one (a 70-yard TD run on the first play of the game), I knew he'd be tough to stop." Gonzalez has been difficult to slow down for the last two years, but Saturday was clearly one of his best efforts: He ran for 251 yards and four touchdowns and tossed in 114 passing yards and two scores to lead Liberty to a 39-21 victory over Freedom in the regular-season finale at Bethlehem Area School District Stadium.Of course, Pitt wasn't the only team to take notice of what was happening in the Lehigh Valley. Gonzalez racked up offers from some of the big names in region such as Pitt, Penn State, WVU, UConn, Maryland and Cincinnati; and then some from across the country with Standford, Vanderbilt, Oregon, Clemson and Florida State. The most important thing for Gonzalez? A chance to play:
Right now I want to find a school that has good tradition. I also want to play early, but at the same time it doesn’t have to be right away. I am open to red-shirt if that means I can start as a Redshirt-Sophomore. I am a winner and I want to get out there and help our team win."FSU seemed to be the leader, but then received a commit from a local QB (and a coach's son), which seemed to sour Gonzalez on the Seminoles. He committed to Pitt shortly after. Of some concern is Gonzalez's knees. As a senior, he required surgery on each knee for meniscus issues. The first occurred during his senior football season, which hobbled him and eventually caused him to miss two games. The second seems to have been much more serious and kept him off the hardwood for most of his senior season. Yes, he's a pretty damn good basketball player too. [caption id="attachment_783" align="aligncenter" width="453" caption="Gonzalez accepts his nomination for the 2010 Army All-American game. (Bruce Winter/ Lehigh Express-Times)"][/caption] So where does he fit in at Pitt? He clearly wants a shot at taking over at quarterback, but is that realistic? If this was two years ago? Hell yes. Now? Maybe. Despite his exemplary career under center, Gonzalez doesn't seem like a pro-style passer, instead relying on his ridiculous athleticism to make plays. While impressive, it doesn't seem to fit the Wannstedt mold of what a quarterback should be. On defense, however, he should excel for the exact same reasons. According tot he Post-Gazette's Mike White (yeah, I know - "Blue and White" Mike White), it was his insistence on getting a shot at QB that turned some schools off who just wanted him for the secondary. I look for Gonzalez to have a "shot" at QB the same way Kolby Gray did - a redshirt followed by a move to defense, where he should be a beast on the field... Same as he always was.
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