Moving On

Seneca Valley gridders Hayes, Smith, Lawson opt for Millersville, Duquesne, Valparaiso in extending their careers

February 6, 2020 Cranberry Local Sports


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Seneca Valley football coach Ron Butschle stands behind three Raider college football recruits. Seated from left, linebacker Evan Smith has signed with Duquesne, safety Conor Hayes withy Millersville and quarterback Gabe Lawson will sign with Valpairiso later this week.

JACKSON TWP — Seneca Valley seniors Conor Hayes, Gabe Lawson and Evan Smith are extending their football careers.

Hayes, a safety, signed a letter of intent with Millersville, a Division II school in the PSAC Eastern Division. Smith, a linebacker, signed with Duquesne University.

Lawson, a quarterback, was completing his paperwork Wednesday and will officially sign with Valparaiso (Indiana) of the Pioneer League later this week.

“I'm proud of all of these guys,” SV football coach Ron Butschle said. “This football team is like family to me.

“They've all made good choices and I know they'll succeed where they're going.”

The 6-foot-2, 180-pound Hayes also considered Mount Union and Dayton before opting for Millersville. He plans to major in business marketing.

“They have a new coaching staff there and I'm excited about the direction he's taking the program,” Hayes said. “My No. 1 goal, of course, is to graduate.

“I also want to contribute to the success of the football team. I'm hoping to get on the field as a true freshman and not have to red-shirt, but reality may set in that way.”

J.C. Morgan is 4-18 in two years as head coach at Millersville, which has lost 89 of 110 games in the past decade.

The 6-1, 190-pound Smith also considered Lehigh, Dayton, Valparaiso, Columbia, Cornell and Penn before choosing Duquesne. He carries a 4.1 grade point average and plans to major in engineering.

“It's a good football program and it's close to home,” Smith said of Duquesne. “I'm hoping to at least get on the field for special teams as a freshman.

“They have interest in me on both sides of the ball, either at H-back or tight end. I played some fullback in high school.”

Butschle's nephew, Jake Dixon, will be a fifth-year senior tight end at Duquesne next season.

“I like Coach (Jerry) Schmitt a lot and I'm familiar with Duquesne football,” Butschle said. “I'm going to get some chances to go down there and watch Evan play.”

Duquesne's last losing season was 2012. The Dukes are coming off a 6-5 campaign and Schmitt is 92-62 in 15 seasons there.

The 6-2, 190-pound Lawson considered VMI, Fairmont State and West Liberty before choosing Valparaiso. Lawson threw for 1,404 yards last season and compiled 3,901 yards passing and 30 touchdown tosses as a three-year starter with the Raiders.

Valparaiso was 1-11 last year, 3-20 over the past two years after finishing 6-5 in 2017. Landon Fox will be entering his second year as head coach.

“Gabe has a chance to start at quarterback there right away,” Butschle said. “He'll be playing in the same league as (fellow SV grad and quarterback) Jack Cook, which is a pretty neat thing.”

Cook has two years of eligibility left at Dayton, where he's thrown for 5,118 yards, 53 touchdowns and only seven interceptions as a two-year starter already.

Valparaiso quarterback Chris Duncan will be a returning starter as a senior in 2020. He threw for 1,658 yards, 10 TDs and 13 interceptions last year.

“When I visited there, I really felt like the coaches and the program wanted me,” Lawson said. “They showed me a lot of love and that's the sign of a good program.

“I'd love to get a chance to play right away. We'll see what happens. I'm looking forward to being in camp and competing for the job.”

Lawson plans to major in business.

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John Enrietto

John Enrietto

I graduated with a Journalism degree from Ohio University in 1979. I started at the Eagle on August 24, 1997. My awards include 2nd place in feature writing from Ohio Associated Press (while working for the Steubenville Herald-Star), media award from Lernerville Speedway and 3rd place in a Pennsylvania AP contest for story feature.