When Penns Valley’s annual summer basketball camp opens this week Rams head coach Terry Glunt will be without one of his best pupils who’s also proved himself an adept teacher over the years.
Instead of laboring away, taking youngsters under his wing inside the Rams’ gym, Luke Weaver will be practicing for his final football game — Friday’s Lezzer Lumber Classic co-sponsored by the Centre Daily Times at Mansion Park.
“It’s an honor. It definitely is,” Weaver said. “A lot of the alums, the great football players that come through our school have played in this game and I’m honored to be selected for it. It’s a privilege, I must say.”
For Weaver, the fact that it’s his final football came comes with little second-guessing. He had a chance to continue his gridiron career and originally intended to.
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Initially, Weaver intended to play a full slate of college football games at Lock Haven. The Rams’ talented, multisport star who led Penns Valley in receiving with 36 catches for 549 yards and three touchdowns, committed to the Eagles shortly after his senior football season.
But once basketball season rolled around, Weaver had a change of heart.
His love for hoops only increased as the Rams turned an eight-game winning streak into a berth in the PIAA Class AA playoffs. A few late winter workouts with former Penns Valley star Jesse Deloof only compounded his interest in college basketball. It wasn’t soon after basketball season ended and Weaver had switched his commitment and pledged to play basketball for Pitt-Bradford where Deloof is an assistant.
“I reassured myself of what I wanted to do and I couldn’t be happier with my decision now,” Weaver said. “All the hard work that you put in through the season really pays off and I’m pretty excited. (Deloof) really believes in me and that’s where I’m going to go. I’m going to give it my best shot.”
That comes as no surprise to Glunt, who grew used to getting the best shot from Weaver. Literally.
As the Rams’ top shooting guard, Weaver hit big shot after big shot in his high school career.
“He was a marked man on our team,” Glunt said. “Always had the best defender on him. But he battled through that. He was a total team player.”
Oftentimes, Weaver would get the best of the player tasked with guarding him. Glunt refers to two specific examples — a game-winning three-pointer against Jersey Shore during Weaver’s junior year that helped spark the Rams to a five-game winning streak, and a triple-overtime affair against Bald Eagle Area in January.
“I remember talking to the Jersey Shore coach and he said he was as upset as he’s been up to that point because he was telling his kids, ‘Don’t let that Weaver kid hurt us,’” Glunt said.
Against rival BEA, Weaver was relentless in overtime. He drained the same three — drawn up from the same play Glunt designed for him a year prior against Jersey Shore — to send the game into its first overtime.
“I called a play for him and he drained a deep three, just cool, calm collected and boom — it was probably as natural a thing for anybody to do. That’s the way he made it look,” Glunt said.
Weaver picked up six of his 15 points in the final overtime including a put-back to give the Rams some cushion late after being denied on his initial drive to the basket. Penns Valley won the game 53-47.
Weaver’s teammates on the football field have picked up on his physical play over the years. Quarterback Cameron Tobias — who along with running back Taylor Collison will play alongside his most trusted wide receiver in the Lezzer Lumber Classic — said he grew confident over the years knowing the 6-foot-1, 180-pound Weaver could outmuscle most defenders.
“He is a physical player that can just do it all,” Tobias said. “He’s quick, he’s fast and he’s not one of those small guys that can just run around. He’s got some height to him and it helps me being able to throw him the ball down the field knowing that he can go up and get it over the small corners.”
Tobias, who will be headed to Lock Haven where he’ll play football in the fall, said it is a little bittersweet that the Lezzer Lumber game will be the final time he will target his friend down the field. The strong-armed Penns Valley quarterback will miss having Weaver to throw to.
Glunt will miss having Weaver around to mentor the Rams’ upcoming crop of basketball players — like he did throughout his last season when Penns Valley coaches called up a handful of freshmen to get early experience at the varsity level.
“We brought up a couple of ninth graders and they had the best year of their life in sports because they just were made a very big part of a really neat year,” Glunt said. “That’s the kind of kid he is. To me, he was one of the best kids with kids. He had a natural way about him and dealing with them, teaching them.”