The Seton-La Salle High School football team’s offensive line operates like a finely tuned engine and Josh Blamer and Brendan Perone are two of the reasons why. The Peters Township residents have paved the path to the playoffs for the Rebels.
With a 24-21 victory against cross-street rival Keystone Oaks, SLS clinched the top seed out of the Allegheny Conference for the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs. The Rebels ran the table in the division and finished the regular season with an 8-1 record.
“Our coach nicknamed us ‘The machine,’” Perone said. “It fits well because each of us are little cogs and the O-linemen drive the machine. Without us, they (the quarterback and the running backs) can’t do their job.”
“We practice together, and we are definitely our own separate group, but in the trenches we know we have a job to do,” added Blamer. “We have this chant we do before games about the linemen being a machine because we are working on every play, doing the same repetitive kinds of things so that we can protect Matt (Banbury) and Lionel (Deanes). We take pride in that.”
Head coach Rob Carter is proud of the job his entire line has done this season and through experience the Rebels, indeed, have morphed into a well-oiled machine that produced the WPIAL’s No. 2 rusher in Deanes with 1,776 yards as well as a 1,000-yard passer in Banbury.
“To be a great machine, everyone is a part of the operation,” he said. “Everyone has their job to do. If all parts of the machine are on point, greased up and moving, then the machine gets rolling.”
And, Perone and Blamer have enabled the Rebels to roll, says Carter.
“These two young men work great together,” he said. “They both, are the yin to their yang. They have played a priceless role with our run game and offense. Their contributions have not gone unnoticed.”
Perone provides the brawn while Blamer adds the brains to the outfit.
Like his brother, Tyler, who is now a quarterback at Waynesburg University, Perone started his career as a quarterback. He moved to the line when he attended Peters Township Middle School then headed to SLS for high school.
“I found my niche. It was fun,” he said of playing on the line. “I got to hit people every day and that was good.
“I can hold my ground pretty well. Most people don’t get past me,” continued the 6-1, 231-pound senior. “I don’t want them too because that is my job. So they usually don’t. I strike pretty hard with my hands and I’m a good blocker.”
Carter agreed with Perone’s assessment.
“Brendan is a warrior,” he said. “He plays hard for four quarters. He does what is needed for his team. He is physical and powerful.”
Blamer is intellectual. The 6-4, 250-pound senior takes five A.P. courses and pulls down a 4.9 grade-point average. Bucknell, Lehigh, Georgia Tech, Penn State as well as MIT, Carnegie Mellon and RPI have approached him regarding pursuing a career in bio-medical engineering.
“Josh is cerebral player, athletic for his size and length,” Carter said. “He moves well. He is a respectful young man who loves his team.”
Blamer has started at left tackle for the Rebels since his sophomore season while Perone starts at right guard. They became friends and neighbors when Blamer moved to Peters Township upon his dad’s (Paul) job transfer from Virginia.
“We live in neighboring neighborhoods so we used to car pool (to SLS) before we got driver’s licenses,” said Blamer. “I’d almost guarantee we would not know each other if it were not for football. We are both linemen, go to the same school and are good friends. We understand each other and what the goals are.”
That’s why the Rebels have been successful, said Perone.
“All the linemen have one job. We are cognizant of what we are expected to do,” he said. “We know that we are not the big playmakers. If Lionel is the leading rusher, then we are all doing our job. We all work as a team. If one fails at his job, then we all go down with them. We are part of the team and proud of the job that we do.”
While he has been on the job for three years, Blamer has learned from his experiences and he’s smart enough not to make the same mistake twice. He recalled one instance when he thought he was going to make a big play but the guard pulled.
“I got crushed,” he said. “I’ve gotten better at recognizing that. You learn fast when it hurts.”
Because he is always thinking, Blamer is able to help the Rebels. Offensively, he is “scanning” the field. On defense, he is constantly detecting down and distance so he can react when a play is coming. “I recognize situations and I have good instincts,” he said.
Blamer’s instincts tell him that the Rebels have a solid shot at achieving their ultimate goal of winning a WPIAL championship. SLS begins its playoff quest at 7:30 p.m. Friday when the Rebels face Freeport at Dormont Stadium.
“Obviously, since it is my senior year, the goal is to win a WPIAL title. That’s always been the dream,” Blamer said.
“For most of us (starters) this will be our first playoff game but I’ve been to the playoffs so I hope I can provide some kind of leadership. By example, because I am not really a stand-up, pre-game speech type of guy,” he added. “I’m more a silent leader. Everyone knows that I am working hard and willing to help other who need it.”
Perone doesn’t think the Rebels need much. It’s all about performing.
“To be honest, I’m not worried because I think we are a good team and we can do it if we set our minds to it,” he said. “We have good athletes who have worked hard all season and a good team bond.”
“They are big games,” Blamer added of the playoffs. “We will give everything we have and play our hearts out but we have to treat them like any other game. Do our thing. Play our game.”