While Duluth, Ga.’s Dylan Lonergan displays exceptional talent at both football and baseball, the 2023 athlete prefers playing quarterback. This past year on the gridiron, he played for the eighth-grade Mountain View Bears in the Gwinnett Football League (GFL) as a seventh grader.
“He is a very talented athlete, and at QB shows a strong arm and terrific mechanics,” said Bears coach Paul Hennelly. “One thing that stands out working with Dylan is his football IQ―he grasps concepts quickly, gets the team into the best play and makes good decisions with the ball. He is very versatile―he can run a triple option under center, then next series drop into the pistol and throw quick screens for a spread attack, and next series go back under center as a pocket passer. He can do a lot of things to help his team.”
In addition to being an excellent player and a straight-A student, Lonergan showed that he’s a standup young man. When he broke his wrist in practice and had to miss several games, he was still one of the first to arrive at practice, doing what he could for the team. He also shadowed the backup QB as he learned to run the offense.
“Unlike a lot of kids his age who tune out and don't pay attention when they are not actively in drills or live work, Dylan paid attention to everything and got mental reps that helped him jump right back in once his wrist was healed,” Hennelly noted, then added with a laugh, “He knew the playbook better than anyone on the team, including some coaches.”
Lonergan ended his season with the Bears in style: He drove his team 60 yards with less than a minute remaining for a come-from-behind victory, hurling a 40-yard TD pass.
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But his season was far from over. In November, he was the starting QB for the GFL seventh-grade all stars in the FBU National Championship tournament. In the previous year, he took the sixth-grade team to the championship finals. The Lonergan-led team was the first to advance out of the regional stage at the sixth- or seventh-grade level.
Way back at the grade-school level, the youngster had an outstanding football tutor while playing in Little League: His father, Dan Lonergan, played as the backup QB for the 1982 National Champions Penn State Nittany Lions and was briefly with the Washington Redskins. He also played baseball in college, too.
“I coached Dylan for five years―three as offensive coordinator and two as his head coach,” he said. “It was great fun, and he would seek advice at times.”
“My dad has always been an inspiration to me ever since I started playing sports,” Dylan stated. “He has taught me to work hard and always be humble. No one could ask for more.”
While he’ll be playing both sports well into high school, Lonergan has one clear choice―football. “I like being in control of the offense,” he said. “I like making big plays at big moments.”
His father noted that his experience as a QB wasn’t why Dylan chose to be one as well. He started out on defense and morphed into a quarterback.
“He likes the contact of football―he played middle linebacker until last year,” Dan said.
Coach Hennelly confirmed that he’s no delicate QB, either: “When running, he gets behind his pads to really finish his runs; defenders take a lick trying to tackle him.”
Lonergan patterns himself after the Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rogers, who’s made a big play or two himself.
“He kind of plays like I do,” he said. “He is a pass-first player, but can also tuck it and run when he needs to. He is also a great person while being a great player.”
While it is unknown which football team he’ll be playing for in the eighth grade this fall, look for Lonergan to be a great player with the Georgia Jackets this spring.
On the baseball diamond, his coaches praise his abilities as a dominant pitcher and hitter.
“[He’s a] special player,” said East Cobb Tigers coach Ed Cooney. “He could very well be the best all-around baseball player at his age group in the state of Georgia. He has all of the tools along with excellent technique both pitching and hitting.”
While playing for the Tigers last season, the team won the Cooperstown Dreams Park 12U championship, outscoring opponents 138-18. The Tigers were also ranked 10th nationally.
Lonergan also played in the Perfect Game Series for North Georgia for two consecutive years and in a Super NIT tournament with the MGBA Bulldogs, winning multiple MVP awards. Overall last year, he hit .475 with 20 home runs. As a pitcher, he threw 91 innings while striking out 143 and walking just 19, with a WHIP of .78.
Even as a 10-year-old, threw a no-hitter in the Grand Slam World Series championship game for the Peachtree Ridge Lions.
“He has all of the tools along with excellent technique both pitching and hitting,” Cooney said. “And he’s probably the hardest thrower in his age group with excellent control and consistent pitching mechanics.” The Tigers’ coached also noted his great bat speed and opposite-field power, topped off with deceptive speed.
“He’s a very competitive kid,” Cooney added. “He has high expectations of himself. It’s going to be fun watching him progress.”
Lonergan will have the chance to prove his mettle while playing for the Georgia Jackets 13U team this spring. The Jackets may be filled with budding college prospects, but Cooney is confident that he’ll excel.
“He’s an impact player for any team he plays on,” he declared. “He’ll be able to play at a high level.”
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