2010s TribLive HSSN All-Decade Football Team: Offense

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Thursday, January 2, 2020 | 9:48 PM


The 2010s were a record-setting decade for WPIAL football teams, with career, single-season and single-game record books rewritten more than once.

When the decade dawned, no WPIAL passer had broken the career 7,000-yard barrier. None had thrown for 3,000 yards in a season. Nobody had touched 500 yards in a game.

And now?

As the decade came to a close, there are nine passers with more than 7,000 career yards — and 3,000-yard seasons are almost the norm. Four times this decade a WPIAL or City League quarterback topped 500 yards in a game.

The rushing and receiving records weren’t safe either, but the 2010s weren’t all about gaudy stats.

Combined, WPIAL teams won 17 state titles, including multiple championships for Clairton, North Allegheny and South Fayette. The decade featured some remarkable teams and many incredible players.

Here’s a look back at the All-Decade Team as chosen by TribLive HSSN.

Quarterback

Phil Jurkovec

Pine-Richland, 2017 (senior season)

Jurkovec joined former Jeannette star Terrell Pryor as the second player in WPIAL history to throw for more than 3,000 yards and rush for more 1,000 in the same season. He accomplished the rare feat as a senior in 2017 while leading the Rams to WPIAL and PIAA Class 6A titles. In his three years, he compiled 11,144 total yards, 8,202 passing yards and 71 touchdown passes. He recently completed his sophomore season at Notre Dame.

Watch Phil Jurkovec highlights

The decade’s next best

Mack Leftwich, North Allegheny, 2012

Brett Brumbaugh, South Fayette, 2014

Ben DiNucci, Pine-Richland, 2014

Brady Walker, Gateway, 2017

Hollis Mathis, Penn Hills, 2018

•••

Running back

Rushel Shell

Hopewell, 2011

Shell was a record-setting workhorse for Hopewell and remains the all-time leading rusher in WPIAL history with 9,078 career yards. His string of 39 consecutive 100-yard games was one better than Billy Sims’ national record from 1975. But Shell also topped 200 yards 25 times in his high school career. He went on to play one season at Pitt and three for West Virginia.

Watch Rushel Shell highlights

Tyler Boyd

Clairton, 2012

Boyd was a wide receiver at Pitt, a position he now plays for the Cincinnati Bengals, but was a standout running back in high school. His Bears went 48-0 combined in 2010, ’11 and ’12, winning WPIAL and PIAA titles each year. As a senior in 2012, Boyd rushed for 2,584 yards and scored 51 times, giving him 117 career TDs and 5,755 career yards.

Watch Tyler Boyd highlights

The decade’s next best

Luke Hagy, Mt. Lebanon, 2011

Dravon Henry, Aliquippa, 2013

Shai McKenzie, Washington, 2013

Miles Sanders, Woodland Hills, 2015

Zane Dudek, Armstrong, 2016

Lamont Wade, Clairton, 2016

•••

Wide receiver

Robert Foster

Central Valley, 2012

Foster, a wide receiver at Alabama and now for the Buffalo Bills, showed his superstar potential as a sophomore when he scored twice at Heinz Field and led Central Valley to a WPIAL title in the school’s first season after Center and Monaca merged. Foster had 119 career catches for 2,003 receiving yards and another 1,332 yards rushing.

Watch Robert Foster highlights

Devin Wilson

Montour, 2012

Wilson established WPIAL career records for receptions (230) and receiving yards (3,192) as a multi-sport star for the Spartans. He had 38 catches as a freshman, 55 as a sophomore, 72 as a junior and 65 as a senior. Wilson was also a standout basketball player and played four seasons at Virginia Tech.

Watch Devin Wilson highlights

Justin Watson

South Fayette, 2013

Watson set a WPIAL single-season record with 22 touchdown catches as a senior, helping the Lions win WPIAL and PIAA titles. At the time, his 1,568 receiving yards that season also were a WPIAL record. Watson, who now plays for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, set career records at Penn for receptions, receiving yards, receiving touchdowns and all-purpose yards.

Watch Justin Watson highlights

The decade’s next best

Zach Challingsworth, South Fayette, 2012

Troy Apke, Mt. Lebanon, 2013

Aaron Mathews, Clairton, 2014

Tre Tipton, Apollo-Ridge, 2014

Courtney Jackson, Gateway, 2018

•••

Tight end

J.P. Holtz

Shaler, 2011

Along with playing tight end, the versatile Holtz also took snaps at running back, wide receiver, linebacker and punter in high school. As a senior, he scored 14 touchdowns. Holtz went on to make 81 receptions at Pitt — catching 11 TDs — and now plays tight end for the Chicago Bears.

Watch J.P. Holtz highlights

The decade’s next best

Paul Lang, Mt. Lebanon, 2010

Jesse James, South Allegheny, 2011

Scott Orndoff, Seton LaSalle, 2012

Mateo Vandamia, West Allegheny, 2018

•••

Offensive line

Dorian Johnson

Belle Vernon, 2012

Johnson was a five-star prospect and ranked as the second-best offensive tackle nationally, according to Rivals.com, which rated him No. 31 overall in his recruiting class. He had nearly two dozen Division I offers including Alabama, Notre Dame and Ohio State. He became a four-year starter and All-American for Pitt. A fourth-round draft pick by the Arizona Cardinals, Johnson is on the XFL roster for the D.C. Defenders.

Watch Dorian Johnson highlights

Patrick Kugler

North Allegheny, 2012

Kugler helped North Allegheny win three consecutive WPIAL Class 4A titles along with state championships in 2010 and 2012. The four-star Rivals recruit chose Michigan from among two dozen offers including Florida, Miami, Notre Dame, Stanford and others. He earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors as a senior in 2017. He’s currently the offensive line coach at Howard.

Watch Patrick Kugler highlights

Alex Bookser

Mt. Lebanon, 2013

Bookser was a three-year starter on the Blue Devils’ offensive line and a two-way starter as a junior and senior. The four-star Rivals recruit was ranked as the 22nd-best offensive tackle prospect in his class. He had more than 20 scholarship offers and chose Pitt from a list that included Penn State, Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State and Southern Cal, among others. Bookser made 39 starts for the Panthers.

Watch Alex Bookser highlights

Josh Lugg

North Allegheny, 2016

Lugg helped North Allegheny rush for more than 3,000 yards in his senior season. The four-star Rivals recruit was ranked 22nd nationally among offensive tackle prospects in his class. He chose Notre Dame from a list of offers that also included Alabama, Michigan State, Wisconsin and others. Lugg, a junior, appeared in 13 games this season and started the final five for the Fighting Irish.

Watch Josh Lugg highlights

C.J. Thorpe

Central Catholic, 2016

Thorpe anchored the line for a Central Catholic team that reached the state finals in his junior and senior seasons. The Vikings went 15-1 and won the PIAA title in 2015. He was a four-star Rivals recruit and ranked as the fifth-best guard prospect nationally. He chose Penn State from an offers list that included LSU, Michigan, Georgia, Auburn and others. He just completed his sophomore season for the Nittany Lions.

Watch C.J. Thorpe highlights

The decade’s next best

Adam Bisnowaty, Fox Chapel, 2011

Ian Park, Upper St. Clair, 2011

James Gmiter, Bethel Park, 2017

Andrew Kristofic, Pine-Richland, 2018

Michael Carmody, Mars, 2019

•••

Kicker

D.J. Opsatnik

West Allegheny, 2016

Opsatnik was West A’s rock-solid kicker for four years and set a state record with 36 career field goals. Indians coach Bob Palko turned to him often, and Opsatnik once had a 10-point night against Woodland Hills with a game-winning extra point in overtime included. His career long was a 47-yarder as a senior. He kicked eight field goals in one season for Alderson Broaddus before transferring to Cal (Pa.).

Watch D.J. Opsatnik highlights

The decade’s next best

Adam Mitcheson, Kiski Area, 2013

Jake Chapla, Plum, 2015

Ryan Coe, South Fayette, 2018

Johnathan Opalko, Central Catholic, 2019

Cameron Guess, Belle Vernon, 2019

•••

TribLive HSSN All-Decade Team

2010s All-Decade Offense

2010s All-Decade Defense

2010s All-Decade Coaches

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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