Talk about big shoes to fill.
If you play quarterback for Elizabethtown, you know who he is. You know about his records and his passing fancy. You know about how he led the Bears to the top of the section charts and into the postseason during his prep playing days.
You know he was the first L-L League QB to pass for 2,000 in a 10-game regular season, and you know he was an All-American at Kutztown University, where he passed for 9,096 yards in his collegiate career.
Year after year, since 1987, whoever quarterbacks E-town’s offense knows Andy Breault, a Bears’ and KU Hall-of-Famer and one of the best signal callers in L-L history.
These days, the E-town kids know him as Coach Breault; after 14 years as an assistant, he’s taken over the head-coaching duties this fall for Bill McDonald, who stepped down following last season.
Breault’s QB protege just happens to be his nephew, E-town senior QB Cole Patrick, who is putting up some whopper numbers behind center so far this season: Heading into Friday’s crossover game against Penn Manor, he’s 91 of 155 for a league-high 1,773 yards with a league-best 20 TD throws.
And he’s doing it for his uncle, who is calling the shots.
“I have a ton of respect for him, so I know that when he has to criticize me, he’s doing it to make me a better player,” Patrick said. “And I love it when he gives me advice. This created some high expectations about what you’d like to accomplish in your family. From his great accomplishments, that made me want to do the same thing. I looked up to him when I was younger, and I wanted to be just like him when I was older.”
Breault knew early on that Patrick had the tools to play QB for the Bears.
“Even throwing the ball around in the backyard when he was younger, you could see the potential,” Breault said. “He’s handled it really well. He’s a humble kid with a great demeanor. He’s just Cole. And he goes out there and does the things we ask him to do on each play.”
Patrick has been a talented triggerman in E-town’s spread scheme. And he has a merry band of wideouts at his disposal, like Luke Pierson (22-477, 5 TD), Cole Livingston (21-481, 7 TD), Alex Diahn (17-346, 4 TD) and sure-handed TE Dylan Sweger (16-256, 1 TD).
And here’s a tip of the cap to the Bears’ offensive line, who have kept Patrick upright through this season’s first eight weeks: Tackles Zach Kreider and Jonathon Heisey, guards Jett Kelly and Adnan Traore and center Joe Sikora.
“They’ve made it so easy for me,” said Patrick, who is also an ace pitcher for the Bears’ baseball team. “And the receivers, they can all get open. I trust them. It’s my job to get the ball to them.”
And Patrick has delivered — while keeping it all in the family. In fact, several of E-town’s players are either related, or their dad’s played for the Bears back in the day.
“(Breault) had some big shoes to fill (taking over for Coach McDonald),” Patrick said. “But I knew he had a lot to offer with his background. I knew he was going to be a really good head coach. And I wasn’t nervous about the whole family stuff or anything. Or from going from one coach to another.”
So there’s been a smooth transition in the coaching ranks. And that’s led to some eye-popping results, like the first two weeks this season, when E-town topped Donegal and Dover, and Patrick passed for 400-plus yards in both games. He’s the first L-L player to ever do that.
“I figured I wasn’t going to do that every week,” Patrick said, chuckling. “If I did … wow. But I figured it was going to get harder, and I wasn’t going to pass for 400 yards every week.”
He hasn’t. But he’s had some big games: Patrick passed for 264 yards and four scores in a crazy 45-44 win over Solanco, and last Friday, in a wild 65-28 victory over Garden Spot, he passed for 259 yards and five TDs — four to Livingston.
“It’s pretty scary,” Livingston said. “Cole can pretty much drop the ball on a dime, wherever he wants it. So when we get going, it’s got to be tough to stop us.”
Breault didn’t completely junk what E-town was doing. Some terminology changed. And the Bears went to more of a spread attack, thanks to the personnel. Hence the gaudy passing numbers.
“Definitely a little bit more of a spread,” Livingston noted. “We throw a lot. But there wasn’t many huge changes, just some minor things here and there. But for us, the passing attack is what we go to.”
Early and often.
And for E-town — which is keeping it all in the family — it has worked.