T-D HS Football

Ligonier Valley’s Bloom honored by USA Today

By: Mike Mastovich

An injury cut short Alec Bloom’s scholastic football season by three weeks, but Ligonier Valley’s 6-foot-7 game-breaker continues to earn some impressive accolades, with the latest praise coming from a national publication.
The USA Today named Bloom to the All-Pennsylvania team as the all-star squad’s only tight end.
“It’s a great honor to be chosen as one of the best players at your position in the state,” Bloom said on Thursday night. “I had a great senior year, but all the credit should go to my teammates and my coaches. My coaches coached me up. My teammates picked me up when I was down. (Ligonier senior) Scott Fennell threw the ball to me. He’s a great quarterback and a great athlete.”
Bloom verbally committed to the University of Connecticut prior to his senior season. But since then, the Huskies fired coach Paul Pasqualoni in September and hired new coach Bob Diaco away from Notre Dame after the season.
After Pasqualoni was let go and in the months since, the uncertainty surrounding the Huskies coaching situation reignited interest in UConn recruits such as Bloom who either had previously committed or were still in the decision-making mode.
“I verbally committed to UConn. With the whole coaching change situation I started looking at other places,” said Bloom, who has been noticed by several programs in major conferences. “Other schools have caught my eye. We’ll know where I’m going in February.”
That doesn’t mean he won’t land at UConn.
“I talked to the coaches and it seems like they’ve got a lot of good coaches,” Bloom said. “I’m looking forward to getting up there for a visit over the next few weeks.”
The UConn recruit previously was a first-team Pennsylvania Football Writers All-State selection in Class AA and a first-team all-state pick by Pennsylvania Football News. Bloom was the first-team tight end on The Tribune-Democrat All-Area team last month.
“We’re extremely proud of all the different accolades and humbled by it all as well,” Ligonier Valley coach Roger Beitel said. “He just keeps making history for us. This USA Today All-Pennsylvania Team is for all classifications and they only choose one player per position in the entire state. Alec is the only player in District 5 or District 6 on the team.
“We’re appreciative of the fact of what he was able to do considering his season was cut short the last three games. Imagine what we could have done and the types of numbers he might have put up had he been able to play in those last three games.”
Bloom caught 45 passes for 830 yards and 12 touchdown receptions in eight games for 6-5 Ligonier.
Two of his most dominant performances came in back-to-back weeks against Heritage Conference frontrunners Penns Manor and Homer-Center, the eventual District 6 Class A champion. Bloom combined for 354 receiving yards and five touchdowns in those games.
He and quarterback Scott Fennell couldn’t be stopped in the second half of the Penns Manor game, and the duo helped the Rams take a late lead only to see the Comets score on a wild last play of the game, knocking Ligonier from the unbeaten ranks.
“We definitely started to pick it up when we went against Penns Manor,” Bloom said. “That was a big game that we let go at the end. It was one of our best offensive games but it came down to a horrible ending. The season didn’t turn out the way we wanted, but our team was a great team and I made a lot of great friends. They’re my teammates and my brothers.”
Bloom was injured in Week 8 and missed the final three games. Beitel said the knee injury wasn’t as serious as it might have been, and part of the reason Bloom sat out was as a precaution to prevent a more serious setback.
Since then, Bloom has been rehabilitating the knee and supporting the Rams boys basketball team.
“He’s been out of the brace for several weeks,” Beitel said. “He’s back to working out. He looks great. He feels great. He’s hoping this next doctor’s appointment or early February he’s cleared for all activities.”
Beitel said the recruiting process has been an educational experience complicated by the Huskies coaching change. UConn fired Pasqualoni after an 0-4 start.
Interim coach T.J. Weist led the Huskies to a 3-5 mark the rest of the way.
UConn named former Notre Dame defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Diaco as the new head coach after the season.
“The whole recruiting process based on his season has really heated up in the last month or so,” Beitel said. “The more teams see him and hear him and see his senior year tape, he’s drawn a lot more interest. The whole thing with UConn, he’s ultimately waiting to see what the new coach has in store for him. Do they love him as much as the old staff did?
“Alec needs to see where he fits in with the new staff and whether or not he’s still someone that they want or if he’s someone they have to inherit,” Beitel added. “If that doesn’t go as well as planned he definitely has some outstanding options available to him as well.”
The timing of the hire has extended the waiting game for recruits.
“Coach Diaco said they were going to honor any scholarships offered to kids prior to the change,” Beitel said. “Alec hasn’t met Bob Diaco because he was hired right around the dead period. From Dec. 15 to Jan. 15 Division I coaches are only permitted one phone call per week and no face-to-face contact.”
Despite the season-ending injury, Bloom’s high school career officially won’t end until June.
He was selected to participate on the Pennsylvania team in the prestigious Big 33 game in Hershey.
“He’s got a lot going for him. It’s a fantastic experience for the school, our program and in particular, him,” Beitel said. “He’s such a great kid. He really is an absolutely fantastic kid. You see him with young kids, elementary kids at basketball games and you’d never expect it to be a kid who received so much accolades for his athletic abilities.”