Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Challingsworth Fills a Number of Roles for South Fayette

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Challingsworth Fills a Number of Roles for South Fayette

Article excerpt

When a South Fayette offensive drive stalled last season, Lions coach Joe Rossi would call upon a teenager with a big right foot to boot the ball away in hopes of pinning the opposition deep in its own territory.

The kid with the strong leg is now an all-conference punter.

But while possessions sometimes end with his booming punts, it's only the beginning of what Zach Challingsworth means to the South Fayette football team.

When you talk about WPIAL players who are most valuable to their team, the conversation must include Challingsworth, who plays a leading role in just about everything the Lions do.

In fact, there are only two situations when he doesn't.

"The only time [I don't play] is [South Fayette] field goals and extra points," he said. "That's the only time I get a break."

Challingsworth is one of the area's top wide receivers, the position where he will likely play at Pitt. Challingsworth committed there in June. Elsewhere on offense, Challingsworth is the Lions backup quarterback and, much like he did last season, could take occasional snaps in the team's Wildcat formation this season. He rushed for 250 yards as a junior.

On the other side of the ball, Challingsworth is a ball-hawking defensive back who picked off a half dozen passes.

And then there's special teams, where Challingsworth is, well, special. He uses his excellent speed -- he's been clocked at 4.4 in the 40-yard dash -- to be a constant scoring threat in the return game. He blocked six extra points and three punts last year. And, oh yeah, he was the best punter in the Class AA Century Conference.

"He's just a true athlete," said Rossi, who has called Challingsworth the best athlete he's ever coached. "He runs like a deer. He's now bigger and stronger [than last year]. And he's still a young kid. He's only 16-years-old."

Challingsworth, who is 6 feet 2, 190 pounds, won't turn 17 until Halloween. He has been South Fayette's most productive receiver the past two seasons.

As a sophomore, he helped the Lions win the WPIAL championship and reach the PIAA final by hauling in 41 passes for 865 yards and 13 touchdowns. …

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