Brett Brumbaugh beams with joy when he recalls watching his older brothers punish opposing defenses with their strong, accurate passes and knowledge of football.
His oldest brother, Christian, led South Fayette to a WPIAL Class AA championship in 2010 and an appearance in the PIAA title game.
Luke, who transferred from South Fayette to Seton-La Salle, followed Christian by finishing his high school career in 2012 with 3,700 passing yards and 38 touchdowns.
The duo's achievments, which included scholarships to William & Mary and Robert Morris respectively, have made the Brumbaugh family synonymous with the quarterback position in WPIAL football.
When the youngest brother, Brett, was inserted as the Lions' starting quarterback in 2012, few thought the lanky sophomore would live up to his brothers' legacy, which included Christian's spot as the WPIAL's all-time leading passer.
He did that and more.
Brett led South Fayette to its first state football championship last fall and set the WPIAL single-season passing mark with 3,897 yards, breaking the record of 3,726 set by Christian in 2010. He also completed 260 of 379 passes for 41 touchdowns and was named the Class AA Player of the Year by the Pennsylvania Football Writers.
The 6-4 quarterback was the Observer-Reporter Player of the Year for football and now, he is the O-R Male Athlete of the Year.
“The season was wonderful,” Brumbaugh said. “It was a dream come true. Looking back, it made me realize what we accomplished and how special it really was.”
Brumbaugh's ability to pick apart opposing defenses with the precision of a skilled surgeon led South Fayette to the WPIAL Class AA title game at Heinz Field with powerhouse Aliquippa standing in the way. The Lions' offensive leader, who doubles as the basketball team's starting center, decided to take advantage of his little free time during championship week.
After practice one day, he went to the school's gymnasium and practiced post moves and shot around. The time away from the football field and scouring game film allowed Brumbaugh to not only prepare for the upcoming basketball season, but took his mind off the pressure of a championship game.
He went on to lead the Lions past Aliquippa, 34-28, in the best championship game of the day and threw three touchdown passes against Imhotep Charter to win the state championship that eluded Christian.
“There was a lot of pressure on him,” South Fayette head football coach Joe Rossi said. “When you run this offense, there always is. He obviously handled it all and in the biggest games, he played his best. That says a lot for the kid. To have the game he had at Heinz and the one he did in Hershey, he was awesome when it was on the biggest stage.”
South Fayette head basketball coach Rich Bonnaure is accustomed to playing shorthanded at the beginning of basketball season. The majority of his players spend the fall in football or soccer, but it is athletes like Brumbaugh who have helped the Lions average 18 wins in Bonnaure's 12-year tenure.
Brett's extra work in the gym with a basketball didn't hurt, either. He averaged nine points and 7.6 rebounds per game for South Fayette, which defeated Greensburg Salem in a WPIAL Class AAA preliminary round playoff game.
“He's the poster boy for kids who help keep our basketball program from dipping,” Bonnaure said. “That's the kind of kid he is. I think it takes a special person to dedicate time to two sports like that and he worked to become a pretty good basketball player.”
The youngest Brumbaugh learned his tactical, decisive approach to athletics from his older brothers. When Christian and Luke would bring home weekly packets filled with scouting reports or the occasional game video, Brett would be picking their brains with questions about reads and protections.
Brumbaugh, who has three Division I scholarship offers, quickly became a student of the game and faces the same questions from college coaches that Christian had in 2011, most notably, “Can he run a spread offense for a program that needs its quarterback to run?”
After losing just one game in 2 1/2 years and winning the two most coveted trophies in Pennsylvania high school football, he's ready to answer the concerns the same way he addressed the pressure of taking the reins from Christian and Luke – by winning.
“It gives me more reason to go out and perform at an even higher level,” Brumbaugh said. “There are always going to be doubters and what I have to do is not worry about people's opinions of me. That's what I've been doing my whole high school career and that's all you can do.”