When Jon Guth finished up his four-year varsity football career in the fall of 1993, he graduated as the Brookville Raiders’ all-time leading passer in yardage (4,033) and touchdowns (29).
What he didn’t know at the time was that during his senior season, he passed NFL Hall of Famer and East Brady native Jim Kelly as District 9’s all-time leading passer. Kelly graduated with 3,915 yards after the 1977 season.
After Raiders junior quarterback Jack Krug passed him last Friday on the team’s yardage honor roll, Guth sits in 21st place on the D9’s all-time list.
Just over 25 years as the team’s all-time leading passer, and not quite a season on top of D9’s list as Clearfield’s Chad Kroell blasted by him in 1994.
Clearly, the eras are different and any former high school quarterback Guth’s age or older, and even younger, can only shake their head at the evolution of the game they’re seeing now
“I would have loved to play with this offense,” Guth said. “When I played, I can count on one hand how many times I started in the shotgun. We were power-I and my senior year, we went to wing-T. Coach (Mike) Donghia was a running back when he played, so we were ground and pound. That’s what we had.”
Guth basically took three years to compile his four-grand passing number. He made the varsity squad as a freshman, but backed up senior starter Scott Feldman.
“I was moved up basically for Mutley (Feldman) to groom me for my sophomore year, so I played JV and that was a brutal year. We got buried,” Guth recalled. “But I won the kicking job for varsity in the opener against Keystone and then Mutley got hurt and I finished that game at quarterback. My first snap, I handed off to Paul Sorek and he ran for a touchdown. My second snap, I fumbled.”
And he lost his kicking job as well as the Raiders beat the Panthers, 19-6.
“I remember going over to Keystone on the bus, I was sick to my stomach, doing the kicking as a freshman and knowing I could screw things up with all of those seniors on the team,” Guth said. “I must of been too nervous, because I kicked terrible.”
It got better for Guth and as a sophomore in 1991, he helped lead the Raiders to the program’s first-ever District 9 title, beating Bradford 21-20 in St. Marys for the Class 3A title.
“I just remember it was a Saturday night in St. Marys and it was very cold,” said Guth. “I remember wearing a sweatshirt with hand-warmers and there was nobody there. It was a quiet game and the parents were about the only ones who braved it.
“Coach said ‘Nobody thinks you can win.’ We kind of hung in there and at the end we won.”
Down 20-14, Guth helped engineer a title-winning 79-yard drive. He hit Dan Murdock with a key 27-yard pass and then connected with Kenny Shaffer on a 12-yard TD pass with five minutes left. Guth was the place-kicker, with the game-winning point on his toe. Even with a personal foul called on Bradford on the TD play moving the ball closer to the goal line, Donghia went for the point-after kick with Guth.
“I kicked the extra point to win and it kind of went over the post and they probably could’ve called it either way,” Guth said. “I remember looking at the official to make sure it was good.”
Guth completed 11 of 21 passes for 156 yards.
It was the first of three straight title game trips for Guth and the Raiders, who lost their next two in a 34-8 loss to Redbank Valley in 1992 and 21-14 loss to Karns City in 1993.
“I was so young, it didn’t hit me. That was how I thought it would go,” Guth said of the title as a sophomore. “I was a follower, not the leader of that group. That was a senior-heavy team.”
Guth’s final career pass in 1993 went to the end zone, intended for Brad Geer with 44 seconds left and Gremlins defender Doug McElravy picked it off to seal what was Karns City’s first-ever district title.
“Afterward, Coach Donghia said we were going for two if we got (the touchdown) and I knew what we were calling, a pass play with Bub McQuown and he was always open on it,” said Guth, who wound up throwing for a career-high 225 yards against the Gremlins.
Guth was an Associated Press Small School Second Team selection as a defensive specialist, actually. He was also a standout punter, averaging nearly 40 yards his senior year.
Earlier in 1993, Guth passed Raiders yardage holder Dick Bowley’s 25-year-old mark of 2,895 yards. At the time, his 225-yard game ranked fourth in school history behind Gene Painter (320) and two games from Bowley (262 and 233).
Now, that 225 ranks 28th … in team history. Krug has nine of those performances, including his record 555 yards in last year’s opener against Bradford. Krug threw for 2,846 yards his freshman year, just shy of the record Bowley had until Guth passed it and now Krug is the all-time leader in just all or parts of 16 varsity games.
Guth’s passes connected with standout receivers such as Shaffer and Murdock, Eric Shuey, Donny McNutt, Lee Park, Matt Weaver, McQuown and Curt Kindel, and others. But the success in that era started in the trenches.
“The games went by so quick and you didn’t have many opportunities,” Guth said. “We’d run it on first and second down and throw it on third down. That was our M-O for a long time.
“It’s hard to believe it lasted until now, especially with the numbers we see. Even the guys who followed me, Jed Fiscus, Ben Marzullo, Shane Heschke, I’m surprised they didn’t crush it then. I’d love to play in the offense they run now. If you threw for 100 yards, you knew that was a good game. 100 yards or 1000 in a season. If you had that, it was pretty good.”
While the athletes were notable then, offensive philosophy was an era ago, and the speed, well, it sped up.
“I was talking to Dan about all of this and, man, we could’ve lit it up,” Guth smiled. “There was nobody faster than him back then, but last year Dan told me there were three guys (Bryan Dworek, Cabe Park and Ian Thrush), and four if you count Jack, who were faster than him. Those are fast receivers.”
Guth also scored 1,000 points in basketball and was a standout in baseball as well. He went on to college, but didn’t play sports, attending Pittsburgh and graduating from Clarion University. After working in the family business at Mike’s Supermarket, he started his own business in 2008. Guth runs Amjo Ice, an ice distributor to area businesses. He and his BAHS grad wife Amy (Wolfe) have two children, Whitney (fifth grade) and Maya (first grade).