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It’s Cam Time: Wagner Gets His Shot at Quarterback for Potent Redbank Valley Offense

NEW BETHLEHEM, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Three years ago, Cam Wagner was called upon in a pinch.

(Photo by Madison McFarland)

When starting quarterback Gunner Mangianti went down with a knee injury late in the season, Redbank Valley football coach Blane Gold turned to his backup, an inexperienced and raw freshman.

But Wagner was undaunted by the pressure.

Wagner won the regular-season finale. Then he won a playoff game as a starter. A broken collarbone in the District 9 Class A championship game against Coudersport ended his run and the Bulldogs’ year.

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Redbank needed Wagner again the next season.

With an offense geared around the option, Mangiantini won the job. But late in the season, Mangiantini was felled again by a knee injury.

Again, Wagner came to the rescue.

Wagner got plenty of playing time in 2020. He delivered a win in relief in the District 9 championship game. Then he got another victory as a starter the next week in a PIAA Class A playoff game against Northern Bedford.

In all, Wagner completed 44-of-77 passes for 409 yards and eight touchdowns as a sophomore.

“When we turned to him,” Gold said, “he made plays.”

Last year, Wagner was in a three-headed quarterback battle in camp with Mangiantini and newcomer, senior Bryson Bain.

Bain ended up winning the job, helped lead Redbank Valley to another D9 crown and an appearance in the PIAA championship game.

With both Bain and Mangiantini graduated, Wagner is the unquestioned starter heading into his senior season.

“We consider Cam a returner starter,” Gold said. “Cam’s 5-2 as a starter and he was instrumental in that first district championship. He had a huge game against Coudersport. He had a huge game against Keystone, and we’re really excited to see what he does.”

That three-headed quarterback battle last season came down to the wire.

Gold called it the toughest decision he’s ever had to make as a coach.

“Last year, it was a razor’s edge margin,” Gold said. “I’m perfectly fine if in the back of Cam’s mind he felt like it could have been him if that helps him compete. Bryson and Cam are very, very, very close to being the same type of quarterback.”

Wagner is ready for this opportunity.

He’s gotten bigger and stronger since his last extensive time at QB.

He’s 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds now. His arm strength has never been in doubt.

Wagner placed third at the PIAA Track and Field Championships in May in the discus. He was also a pitcher on the Bulldogs’ baseball team.

“I’m feeling better overall than what I did before, than when I was younger,” Wagner said. “I feel like we can have a really good football team.”

Wagner plays four sports at Redbank Valley, which he says helps him not only stay in shape, but also gives him an edge on whatever field, court or throwing pit he steps onto.

“I mean, I’m never bored, let’s just say that,” Wagner said, smiling. “I go from football season straight into basketball, then I go straight into baseball and track season, so I never get lazy. I always find time to get in the weight room. I’m never able to slack off, even if I wanted to.”

Wagner also has a slew of speedy receivers to throw the ball to this fall.

Redbank Valley did lose standout wideouts Chris Marshall and Marquese Gardlock, who combined to haul in 75 passes for 1,201 yards and 16 touchdowns. But the Bulldogs still have plenty of explosive receivers returning, led by seniors Tate Minich and Aiden Ortz and juniors Mason Clouse and Ashton Kahle.

While Marshall and Gardlock were tall, deep threats, those four are smaller, but much quicker.

They have Wagner eager to get started.

“It’s exciting because I have three guys with burner speed who run routes very well,” Wagner said. “Then we have Mason — his route running is some of the best I’ve ever seen from a high school guy. With those other three guys, I feel like it’s impossible to overthrow them because they’re always gonna run underneath it.”

The group is also close.

They’ve been playing together virtually their entire lives. The chemistry is strong. And they have a ton of experience.

“Playing with these guys throughout every single year of youth football we could have played, I feel like that’s gonna give us an edge on some teams,” Wagner said. “It’s like this is our fifth season of football because of all the playoff games that we’ve played. With us being together all of our football careers, I feel like we can do some good things.

So does Gold.

“We believe that if we stay healthy,” Gold said. “we have a chance to be a little bit better on offense just because we feel like we’re faster on offense.”

That’s a thought that should petrify Redbank Valley opponents.

“I can’t stress enough that we fully trust this guy to run our offense,” Gold said. “That’s because we’ve seen it. We know what he’s capable of doing. And he’s doing it with a mix of guys who he’s been playing with for his whole life.”

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.

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