Around the Region

Panthers quarterback pipeline runs deep

The Panthers are in good hands with Matt Milano. If he goes down, there is a capable backup on the roster.
Photo courtesy Middlebury Athletics 

Arguably, the Middlebury Panthers have the best quarterback in the NESCAC. Inarguably, they have the best backup quarterback in the league.

It is a strange odyssey that has brought Jared Lebowitz to Middlebury where he is the understudy to 2014 NESCAC Co-Offensive Player of the Year Matt Milano. It began on the East Coast, bounced all the way to the West Coast, then made a stop in the desert before abruptly making a dash across the country and landing at Middlebury in December.

Lebowitz began his high school career in Vermont. It is a state that can't take its place alongside the likes of Texas, California, Florida and Pennsylvania as a place noted for high school football. Folks in Vermont love their Friday night lights as much as anyone but the state numbers only 33 varsity high school football teams and the state has lost the past 14 Shrine Maple Sugar Bowls, the annual summer all-star game against New Hampshire.

There was no question that Lebowitz was a rare talent, so the family plan was to pack up after his sophomore year in high school and head to California where he would have the opportunity to showcase himself playing big time high school football.

A move 3,000 miles away to play football? Maybe not quite the Todd Marinovich, Robo Quarterback thing but that comparison was overheard in the press box during Saturday's 28-9 victory over Colby.

The plan worked. Lebowitz put up sensational numbers in California and made a couple of lists for top 40 pro style high school quarterbacks in the country.

"My dream was always to get a Division I scholarship," Lebowitz said down on the Youngman Field turf after Saturday's victory.

He got one. He signed with UNLV. He got on the field there. He was definitely in the mix.

But then he felt a strange pull. The dream was alive in the desert but the Green Mountains were beckoning.

"I was missing home a little bit. I was missing my Mom and missing the dogs," Lebowitz said.

He made a decision. And Middlebury, a school not far at all from where he was born, was beginning to look very good.

He had never considered it before. The dream had always been Division I, after all.

"I kind of scoffed at Middlebury," he said.

Not now. "Middlebury is the perfect school. I have no regrets," Lebowitz said.

Milano was brilliant last season. He had 24 touchdown passes against only three interceptions.

He was injured against Colby. Nothing serious. His time on the sideline was brief.

But it enabled Lebowitz to get on the field. He led the Panthers on a touchdown drive. He kept the march going with a couple of long completions and capped it...

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Tom Haley

A seven time Vermont sportswriter of the year, Tom Haley has been with the Rutland Herald since 1987. He was inducted into the Castleton State College Hall of Fame in 2004 and received the Contributor to Football Award from the National Football Foundation's Vermont Chapter. He has been's Around the Northeast columnist since 2007.


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