HANOVERTON-All during his high school career, United quarterback Garrett Beech was used to playing the leading role on Friday nights. This past season, he was one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the area, rushing for 1,049 yards and passing for 1,097 while accounting for 27 touchdowns.
However, for the 35th annual Penn-Ohio Stateline Classic, Beech will have to accept a part on the supporting cast as he will play defensive back and kicker for the Ohio squad Friday night at Springfield High School. Quarterbacking duties will be split between Crestview's Collin Gilbert and Poland's Jacob Wolfe.
"It's still a lot of fun to be playing in the game," Beech said. "It's still an honor to be here. I'll just be a little less tired after the game now."
Beech impressed the coaching staff during early practices last week with his booming kicks. He began kicking his freshman year at United and said it came naturally to him.
"I played soccer a little bit as a kid, and coach (Mike) Ward asked me to step in as a freshman after an injury," Beech said. "My first extra point I was nervous and shaking. I just tried to hit the ball as square as I could and it went through. I never really had much trouble with kicking."
Beech says his range on field goals extends to 40 yards, though he never got close to attempting a kick that long in a game.
"We almost never kicked field goals at United," Beech said. "I never remember attempting very many. We went for it on 4th down a lot."
Beech was beaten out for a quarterback spot by his Inter-Tri County League upper tier rival Gilbert, but has gotten a chance to go against him in practice for the Penn-Ohio game while playing defensive back.
"He's the player I was most looking forward to playing with," Beech said. "We've been going at each other since seventh grade so its cool to finally be on the same side. He was always a huge challange to play against when we played Crestview. He's so athletic and makes so many plays. It was tough to cover all the weapons they had on defense."
Friday's game will not be Beech's last as he will get a chance to switch back to offense this fall at Malone.
"Friday night will be a good test to prepare me for college, going against a lot of great players" Beech said. "I think it's going to be a good atmosphere."