High School Sports

Why Penns Valley football isn’t letting the forfeit disappointment overshadow its success

Aaron Tobias and his Penns Valley teammates pulled into the high school parking lot on Oct. 18 amid a clattering of cheers and clapping. In front of the team buses and behind them were fire trucks, sirens blaring. Behind the fire trucks was a long line vehicles full of family members, fans and friends honking their horns as the Mountain League football champions were escorted home.

Aaron, the Rams’ senior quarterback, couldn’t believe the turnout.

“That was great,” he said. “The community support we have is amazing. We enjoy having that support and knowing everyone is there for us.”

The celebration Friday night came after the team dominated Tyrone, 62-14, in Week 9, clinching the championship and a 6-1 record in the conference thanks to a Week 10 forfeit from Philipsburg-Osceola.

Marty Tobias, the team’s head coach and Aaron’s father, said the community support was special, and enjoyed seeing the joy it brought his players.

“That was something really special,” Marty said. “For the community to recognize the kids in that way and to have it come together to support them in their celebration was really special.”

The celebration was warranted. The Mountain League title is the first in the football program’s history.

“It’s meant a lot because of all of the hard work this team has put in throughout all of our years together,” Aaron said. “In seventh grade we were 0-8. We didn’t have a single win. We scored two touchdowns all year. To see that progression from there until now, with us 9-1 and Mountain League champs, it’s special.

Even with the title guaranteed, Aaron had reason to be disappointed by the forfeit in the final week of the season —which would have been his senior night game. He’s just five touchdown passes short of tying the state’s single season passing touchdown record of 52. Averaging 5.2 passing touchdowns per game, according to MaxPreps, playing one more game would’ve given him a good chance to break that record.

While he could’ve been upset, the senior quarterback said he’s more focused on the bigger picture.

“I know that our main goal at the start of the year was the Mountain League title,” Aaron said. “Not anything for me. I didn’t care about that. I just knew Friday we needed to get the win and get the job done. To find out we’re Mountain League champs is more important than any personal stat I could get.”

On the receiving end of most of Aaron’s touchdowns this season has been Logan Snyder. Snyder, a senior tight end, leads the team in receptions and receiving yards with 64 and 964, respectively, while catching 11 of Aaron’s 47 passing touchdowns.

Penns Valley RB Logan Snyder carries the ball against Fairfield Friday. Penns Valley won 77-0. Nate Althouse Photo provided

The senior tight end said he was disappointed his quarterback didn’t get the chance to break those records, but knows that Tobias isn’t focused too much on individual recognition.

“We’re looking ahead of that,” Snyder said. “We’re looking for the win more than records.”

The first of the team’s goals this year was to win a Mountain League title.

Snyder said achieving that goal was special for him because he hadn’t seen the program succeed at this level.

“It means a lot,” he said. “Coming from watching my older brothers not win very many games to us going 9-1 and winning the Mountain League is pretty special.”

With that already achieved, Marty and his two players agreed that they’re taking it one step at a time the rest of the way, with hopes of a Class 2A state title as the ultimate goal.

Aaron will have another chance to break the record when the Rams will kick off their postseason at 7 p.m. Saturday against Marion Center at home in the District 6 playoffs. Since their senior day game against P-O was canceled, they’ll be honoring all the senior football players, marching band members and cheerleaders at the conclusion of that game.

“We get one more game,” Marty said. “We’re going to take it one game at a time. We’ll prepare for (the next) opponent and we’ll try to do the best we can so we can continue to advance.”

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Jon Sauber earned his B.A. in digital and print journalism from Penn State and his M.A. in sports journalism from IUPUI. His previous stops include jobs at The Indianapolis Star, the NCAA, and Rivals.