JACKSON TWP — Seven Seneca Valley football players have their academic and athletic futures signed, sealed and delivered.
Drew Robertson, David Tkatch, Jake Stebbins, Marcus Might, Saige Ley, Josh McLean and Brennan Hayes each made their college choice official on National Letter of Intent signing day last month.
Each played a key role in the Raiders reaching the WPIAL Class 6A championship game in November.
“Our program has been on an upswing for a while,” said Raiders' coach Ron Butschle. “The fact we have so many quality players, it's a nod to the system and the culture that we're building at Seneca Valley.”
Robertson and Tkatch will remain teammates at the University of Dayton as a defensive lineman and offensive lineman, respectively.
At the end of his junior year, Tkatch wasn't sure where he'd end up playing at the next level. Dayton then contacted him over the summer and things progressed from there.
“In the first few weeks of the season, I went up against other Division I-caliber players and did pretty well,” Tkatch said. “Dayton invited me out to a game in the fall and I went to that. I just liked the overall feel of the campus and the players and coaches were very welcoming.
“I'm looking forward to playing on Saturdays and at a new level of intensity.”
Tkatch verbally committed to the Flyers as a guard in December. Robertson followed suit a month later.
“I visited there last summer and just fell in love with it,” said Robertson. “Being a high school starter (on both sides of the ball) since my sophomore year gave me a lot of confidence. I was also looking at a few PSAC schools, but Dayton is the place for me both academically and athletically.”
Butschle believes Dayton is getting two players who have all the tools to be successful.
“They're both very physically strong kids and they have the work ethic to match it,” he said.
Robertson and Tkatch will see a familiar face when they first arrive on campus this summer. Jack Cook, a 2017 SV graduate, is the starting quarterback for the Flyers and is coming off a stellar 2018 season in which he passed for 2,400 yards, 20 touchdowns and only two interceptions.
“It's awesome to know someone who is already in the system,” said Robertson. “Jack can give us tips that will have us ahead of the game before we get there.”
Stebbins committed to Cornell, an IVY League school. While he was a key member of SV's offense last season as a tight end, he will play middle linebacker in college.
Stebbins led the Raiders last season with 159 total tackles, including 19 behind the line of scrimmage.
“I've always been more of a defensive guy,” he said. “That's my true passion.”
“Between leadership, character and talent, Jake has it all,” said Butschle. “He gives back to his community with community service and has gone on mission trips through his church. He's the kind of kid you want as the face of your program.”
“I knew by the eighth grade that I wanted to play football in college,” Stebbins said. “When the recruiting started my junior year, that's when I realized I wanted to go to an IVY school. I want to go to the best possible school while still playing football.”
Ley, an Edinboro recruit, was another stalwart on defense. He was listed as an outside linebacker on the roster, but often times dropped to defensive end and proved adept at rushing the passer, stopping the run and in pass defense.
“He is so relentless on defense,” Butschle said. “He was a part-time starter his junior year, but we put him in better situations to make plays and that made the difference for him this year.”
Might did not play football his junior campaign, deciding instead to focus solely on basketball. At Butschle's urging, he returned to the gridiron last fall and now is preparing to suit up for Indiana (Pa.) University as an offensive tackle.
“At 6-foot-5, 290 pounds, he has the size,” Butschle said. “He wasn't on the recruiting radar until he decided to play in June, but he turned into a very good football player. IUP got themselves a gem.”
Hayes and McLean both starred on the back end of SV's defense as a cornerback and safety, respectively. They both signed to play at John Carroll University outside of Cleveland.
“Those guys are two of my favorite players,” Butschle said. “Josh is long and athletic and Brennan is as tenacious a player as I've seen.”