RAY SWANSON | Keystoner Kennedy grads enter college ranks
Some athletes find the transition from high school football to the collegiate level rather difficult.
A pair of former Kennedy Catholic high school standouts, however, have made the jump rather smoothly.
They are quarterback Ryan Squatrito, now playing for the Oberlin Yeomen, and Justin George, a running back at Kennedy Catholic who has moved to wide receiver with Southern Illinois.
Oberlin and Southern Illinois are in the rebuilding stage and Squatrito and George hope to help turn things around. If dedication and hard work pay off, the two Kennedy products can accomplish those goals in the months and years ahead.
Hot start: Squatrito started the season at Oberlin like a house afire. He played in three of the first four games for the Yeoman.
Ryan started two contests to open the season and played the second half of the third game. He was held out by his coach, Jeff Ramsey, for the first half because of an ankle injury.
In his first start, Squatrito required several stitches to his chin in the third quarter, coming back to throw a touchdown pass which sent the Yeomen into the lead, which failed to hold up.
Oberlin has experienced a long losing streak through the years. But Squatrito is hopeful of ending those losing ways.
In his first three outings, Squatrito had completed 49-of-97 passes for 660 yards and five touchdowns. Quite a remarkable feat for a young man who threw only seven passes in high school.
Following Oberlin's 45-19 loss to Case Western Reserve earlier this year, Ramsey had nothing but praise for his young quarterback. He said, "I need 54 guys to have the same competitive fire as Squatrito."
In that outing, Squatrito passed for 195 years before leaving the game with an ankle sprain.
(Cleveland) Plain Dealer reporter Bob Dolgan wrote, "Despite the lopsided defeat, Oberlin showed more weapons than usual. Freshman quarterback Ryan Squatrito has a strong arm and runs well."
Continued Dolgan, "I think Oberlin picked up a highly talented player in Squatrito. He can pass, run and has a lot of guts. Oberlin appears to be on the way up."
Squatrito's passing game also brought some kind words from Case Western Reserve assistant coach Greg Debeliak, who said, "We were very concerned about stopping Ryan. He has a great arm and is mobile enough to cause problems. As soon as Oberlin can get a running game he will be tough to stop."
One of Squatrito's top outings this season came in a losing effort against Pomona-Pitzer College (25-21) when he was 15-30 for 228 yards and three touchdowns.
Consistent: George has been a consistent starter at his wide receiver position.
George was another superb Kennedy Catholic athlete. He ran the ball more at Kennedy, however, he has been shifted to a wide receiver post at Southern Illinois.
Through the first three games of the season, George had been on the receiving end of nine passes for 83 yards.
The statistics on both Squatrito and George are from the early stages of the season. They certainly have progressed since.
Both Oberlin and Southern Illinois had outstanding recruiting classes this past year and the future looks promising at both schools.