Two vans filled with Our Lady of the Sacred Heart football players pulled up to the team’s practice field at Youthtowne in Clinton on Tuesday.

And wouldn’t you know, hopping out of one of the vans was a kid named Vann, one who hopes to make a giant impact this season by using his outstanding two-way ability to drive the Chargers to lots of success while generating interest from colleges, as well.

Vann Kavals is a 6-foot-5, 230-pound junior quarterback-defensive end who said he has a lot to prove this season, this after seeing his sophomore season end in Week 0 after tearing the ACL in his left knee.

“For sure,” said Kavals, who used a lot of training and a lot of eating protein to add 40 pounds to his big frame since last season. “Because I’m coming in under the radar. I have to make a name for myself and that’s my goal.”

If his performance in Week 0 is of any indication, Kavals could very well become one of the WPIAL’s breakout stars. Kavals had arguably the best all-around performance of any local player in last Friday’s 32-10 win against Shenango. The remarkable effort, which came in his first varsity start at quarterback, saw Kavals complete 21 of 28 passes for 375 yards and four touchdowns and carry the ball 11 times for 52 yards and a touchdown. And if that offensive production wasn’t impressive enough, Kavals also added four sacks defensively for the Chargers, the No. 4-ranked team in Class 1A, according to the Pittsburgh Union Progress.

“In the years I’ve done this, I’ve had quarterbacks and receivers break records. And in our offense we always have some guys who can throw the ball. But if you want to talk about best all-around performances, it might be the best that I’ve ever coached,” said OLSH second-year coach Donnie Militzer.

Added Kavals, “It felt amazing to go out and be able to do what I did.”

Kavals was a bit of an unknown entering the season considering he barely played last season after suffering the injury in a game Aug. 27 at Shenango. Kavals was expected to be a big contributor at wide receiver and defensive end last season. The starting quarterback was senior Nehemiah Azeem, an all-conference performer who ranked No. 4 in the WPIAL in passing after throwing for 2,316 yards and 24 touchdowns.

Kavals flashed his athletic ability by collecting two sacks in the game he was injured. He then had surgery Sept. 19 and was cleared to play again late this June. Kavals was also expected to be a key player for the OLSH basketball and baseball teams last season, but the injury derailed all of those plans.

“It sucked watching from the sideline, but at the same time I knew I had to lift and work out so I could come out and lead the team this year,” said Kavals, who recently got his first tattoo, a large cross with two Bible verses on his upper right arm.

Added Militzer, “I’ve done this 20 years, from high school to the Division I level. I’ve never seen a kid handle an injury that well. He never really got down. He focused on getting better. He focused on, ‘I’m going to come back stronger than before.’ He just had a different mentality with it. But I just think that speaks to the kid he is.”

Kavals wore a T-shirt under his jersey in the Week 0 win that simply had the word “Capable” on it. The shirt served as motivation for Kavals, who felt he was slighted in one publication’s season preview. 

“Before the season there was an article that said if OLSH could find a capable quarterback, they could go a long way. So I just got a T-shirt that said ‘Capable.’ I wore it and then after the game I took off my shoulder pads and showed it to everybody,” explained Kavals, who lives in South Fayette.

In the 48 minutes that preceded that, Kavals showed that he is more than capable, not only to be a standout player at OLSH, but potentially also one of the top quarterbacks in the area. Militzer may be a little biased, but he said he would take Kavals over any other quarterback in the WPIAL. Kavals hooked up with Dereon Greer for three touchdowns (12, 62 and 23 yards) and Ethan Gardner for another (68 yards). Kavals also ran for a 1-yard score. Oh, yeah, he registered those four sacks, as well.

Militzer said he was most impressed with Kavals’ decision-making ability. Considering Kavals completed 75% of his attempts, it’s easy to see why. Kavals has an excellent group of receivers headed by Greer and Dorrien Tate, both of whom finished with eight receptions. The two combined for 83 catches for 1,382 yards and 17 touchdowns last season when the Chargers went 8-3, losing to Clairton in the first round of the WPIAL Class 1A playoffs. Greer is expected to miss a few weeks with an injury.

Militzer believes Kavals could have a Division I feature, potentially even at the Power Five level.

“You can’t teach the size and athletic ability he has,” Militzer said. “If I’m a Power Five program, I’m taking a really hard look at him right now, because as good as he is as a quarterback, with his athletic ability, the sky’s the limit. I know at Division I schools they look at position flexibility. You have a kid here who can literally play every position for you. And again, you can’t teach the physical attributes he has.”

Kavals would love to keep the momentum going Saturday when OLSH hosts Rochester at Moon High School. These Chargers hope to play for another WPIAL championship this season like they did just two seasons ago.

“I think the possibilities are endless,” he said. “As long as everybody stays healthy, I think we can go a long way.”

Brad is a sports writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at

Brad Everett

Brad is a sports writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at