When Forest Hills needed a starting quarterback to replace sophomore Joe Donoughe, the Rangers turned to senior Jared Shope.
A senior, Shope had started since his sophomore season, and that year the Rangers reached the PIAA Class AA semifinals where it ran into high-powered South Fayette. As a sophomore, he started at defensive back. As a junior, he became a two-way starter - defensive back and receiver.
Shope (5-foot-10, 175 pounds) might not have been the obvious choice, but he played well in Donoughe's absence. He's back at receiver now, and returned to his normal role of Donoughe's favorite target.
And Forest Hills hasn't looked back.
The Rangers (7-3) have won five consecutive games, including gritty wins over Penn Cambria, Somerset and Greater Johnstown. They play a District 6 Class AA first-round game at Central (Martinsburg) on Saturday.
There's no doubting Shope will play a key role for Forest Hills.
"Really, he's not been full speed all season," said legendary Forest Hills coach Don Bailey, who has 331 career victories in 39 years with the Rangers. "He's been dealing with a knee injury and the kids see how he's played through it, and they respect that. He's been an effective leader."
So has Donoughe, who missed two games and still has 1,175 yards, rushed for 363 yards and accounted for 13 touchdowns.
Donoughe engineered an improbable last-minute drive to force overtime in an eventual victory over Penn Cambria. He passed for 168 yards, rushed for 119 and accounted for three touchdowns in a win against Greater Johnstown.
"He's improved each week," Bailey said. "Every week, he's seeing things better. He's finding the open receiver. He's running the ball when he needs to and throwing when he needs to. Of course, it helps that he has a couple good receivers to throw to in Jared Shope and Doltyn Sneeden."