Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Mcguffey Grad Forges Ahead

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Mcguffey Grad Forges Ahead

Article excerpt

From the age of 7 until he went to college, Brent Blacharczyk's parents attended all of his football games. It was a tradition for the middle linebacker's family - Blacharczyk's dad, Randy, played middle linebacker before him. Brent's grandfather also played the position.

The tradition continued when Blacharczyk graduated McGuffey High School and committed to Seton Hill. He redshirted his first year, but Randy and Brent's mom, Kelly, attended all of his games just so they could see him stand on the sideline.

It was around that time that Kelly found out she was battling small cell cervical cancer - one of the most rare and aggressive forms of the disease. Suddenly, Blacharczyk found himself regularly making the hour-and-a-half drive from Seton Hill to his hometown of Claysville, Pa., to be with his family during weekends.

The back-and-forth continued for 14 months. After playing fullback during his redshirt freshmen year, he returned home for winter break and was recovering from shoulder surgery to repair his labrum. That was when his mom passed away on Jan. 9, 2015.

With his spring semester approaching, Blacharczyk had a lot to process. He was far from home, and he couldn't turn to football as an outlet as he recovered from surgery. Though he was having a tough time mentally, his commitment to playing football never wavered.

Midway through the spring, he decided to transfer - not only for a better opportunity on the field, but to reduce the amount of time it took to travel home to be with his family.

He decided to transfer down to Division III, and it came down to Washington & Jefferson and Waynesburg. More than two years later, he's Waynesburg's best defensive player and a leader at middle linebacker.

The fit at Waynesburg allowed him to move back to his natural position of middle linebacker. But more importantly, he felt a stronger connection to the team and is only 20 minutes from home, enabling him to make regular trips to see his dad and two siblings. …

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