2016 MSA SPORTS ELITE ELEVEN
Friday, December 16, 2016 | 4:09 PM
The Elite 11 was into breaking records. A number of players on this year’s Elite 11 broke records, whether they were WPIAL marks or school records. The team is made up of the top 11 players in the WPIAL and is picked by the MSA Sports staff.
This year’s team is made up of 10 seniors and one junior. Four of the players were quarterbacks and another played quarterback a little. The team includes three of the top six WPIAL rushers of all time and two of the top three touchdown makers of all time. Other players accomplished things never seen before in the WPIAL. A number of the players have already made their college choices and this year’s team is “Zane-y.” Two of the players are named Zane.
Here is a look at the MSA Sports Elite 11 and the Player of the Year:
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
ZANE DUDEK, ARMSTRONG
RB-DB, Sr., 5-10, 190
The only thing that stopped the “Zane Train” was an injury.
Dudek had a regular season for the ages as he set WPIAL rushing and scoring records. But in Armstrong’s first playoff game, Dudek was injured on the first series and didn’t play the rest of the game. Armstrong’s season ended with that loss to Gateway.
Dudek had the best season of any running back in WPIAL history. He set a WPIAL record for single-season rushing yardage with 2,955 yards on 291 carries and set a single-game record with 492 yards. He also broke the regular-season scoring record with 254 points, including 42 touchdowns.
He finished his career as the WPIAL’s fourth-leading rusher with 6,977 yards rushing and scored 102 career touchdowns. In addition, he was an outstanding defensive back.
Dudek wasn’t recruited much by big-time colleges. His only offer from a Division I-A school came from Kent State. But Dudek, who has better than a 4.0 grade-point average, was recruited heavily by Ivy League and Patriot League schools. He made a verbal commitment to Yale earlier this week.
DARIUS WISE, BEAVER
QB-DB, Sr., 5-11, 170
Wise was one of the most versatile players in WPIAL history. He was the first WPIAL player to rush for 4,000 yards, pass for 2,000 and have 1,000 receiving yards in his career. He was a receiver as a freshman and a slotback as a sophomore. He played quarterback the past two seasons.
Wise finished his career with 4,273 yards rushing, 1,074 receiving yards and 2,029 passing. This past season, he rushed for 1,509 yards and scored 24 touchdowns. He rushed for 403 yards and scored seven touchdowns in a 77-49 victory against Keystone Oaks.
Wise has not a college decision. Brigham Young had offered a scholarship and Virginia also was recruiting him.
ALEX SMITH, KEYSTONE OAKS
QB, Sr., 6-4, 195
By statistics, Smith was a one-of-a-kind quarterback in WPIAL history. An excellent dual-threat QB, Smith became the first ever to throw for 3,000 yards and run for 1,000 in a season (including playoffs). He finished with 1,117 yards passing and 3,121 passing (189 of 308). He threw for 34 touchdowns.
Smith finished his career with 5,186 yards passing and 1,940 rushing. He set a new WPIAL single-game offensive record this year when he had 653 total yards in a 77-49 loss to Beaver.
Smith will play next season at Duquesne University.
LAMONT WADE, CLAIRTON
RB-DB-DB, Sr., 5-9, 190
Not only is Wade one of the best players in the WPIAL, he is rated by scouting services as one of the top defensive backs in the country.
At Clairton, Wade was a star at running back and defensive back. He even played some at quarterback this year and led Clairton to its ninth WPIAL Class 1A championship in 11 years. Wade finished his career as the third-leading rusher in WPIAL history with 7,079 yards. He also tied the WPIAL record for touchdowns scored with 117. The player he tied was former Clairton star Tyler Boyd, now in the NFL.
This season, Wade averaged 13.3 yards a carry. He rushed for 2,368 yards.
Wade is scheduled to announce his college decision Saturday night. His five finalists are Pitt, Penn State, West Virginia, UCLA and Tennessee.
PARIS FORD, STEEL VALLEY
6-2, 190, Sr., WR-DB
Ford played a gigantic role in helping Steel Valley win its first WPIAL title since 1989 and the school’s first PIAA championship. The Ironmen were 15-0 and beat every team by the mercy rule, which had never happened before with a WPIAL team.
Ford transferred from Seton-LaSalle for his senior year. He scored more than 20 touchdowns for Steel Valley, but scored them five different ways – running, receiving, interceptions, punt returns and a fumble recovery return. He was the Ironmen’s leading receiver and one of their top defensive players from his safety position.
Ford had numerous scholarship offers but made a verbal commitment to Pitt during his junior year. He is rated the top player in Pitt’s recruiting class.
DeWAYNE MURRAY, STEEL VALLEY
RB-DB, 5-9, 185, Sr.
Murray and Paris Ford made a great one-two punch for Steel Valley. Murray ran for 2,094 yards on 163 attempts this season, good for a yards-per-carry average of 12.8. He was one of the chief reasons Steel Valley won WPIAL and PIAA titles.
For his career, Murray finished as the sixth-leading rusher in WPIAL history with 6,503 yards. He is the third leading touchdown-maker in WPIAL history with 114.
Murray is being recruited by some Division I schools, but has not made a college decision yet.
KENNY ROBINSON, IMANI CHRISTIAN
QB-DB, Sr., 6-2, 200
Robinson was one of the best players in the City League, and then he transferred from University Prep to Imani Christian for his senior year and became one of the best in the WPIAL. He played quarterback for the first time in his career and helped the Saints gain their first WPIAL playoff berth. Robinson scored 15 touchdowns and threw for 448 yards in one game.
Robinson had some Division I scholarship offers and committed to West Virginia University during the season. He was recruited as a defensive back.
ZANE ZANDIER, THOMAS JEFFERSON
WR-DB, Sr., 6-3, 215
Zandier was a two-way standout for the Jaguars. He was a versatile player who hurt teams with his big-play ability at receiver, and also his defense play. He helped Thomas Jefferson win the WPIAL AAA championship by catching 44 passes for 900 yards. He scored 20 touchdowns and averaged 20 yards a catch. He also was a key on defense for a team that allowed only 6.8 points a game.
Zandier had several scholarship offers from Division I schools. He committed to Virginia during the season. His other finalists were West Virginia and Michigan State.
DEVIN DANIELSON, THOMAS JEFFERSON
OT-DT, Jr., 6-3, 290
Danielson is the only junior on the Elite 11. He is considered one of the best junior defensive linemen in the state. He is one of only a handful of players to ever start for Thomas Jefferson as a freshman and finished this season nine sacks and a number of tackles for loss.
Danielson already has a few Division I scholarship offers from West Virginia, Cincinnati and Iowa State. More are expected in the future.
DAVID ADAMS, PITTSBURGH CENTRAL CATHOLIC
FB-LB, Sr., 6-2, 225
Rivals.com ranks Adams the No. 4 inside linebacker in the country. He was a stalwart on Central Catholic’s defense for three years and finished his career as the school’s all-time leading tackler. He played most of this season with a torn UCL ligament in his right arm. He still had 84 tackles and 5 ½ sacks this season.
Adams was heavily recruited but made his college decision in March of his junior year when he committed to Notre Dame. But he also had offers from Pitt, Penn State, Michigan, Florida and LSU.
FRANK ANTUONO, NESHANNOCK
QB-LB, Sr., 6-2, 230
Antuono’s future is as a linebacker at Robert Morris, but statistically, he was one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in WPIAL history. He became only the second player in WPIAL history to have 5,000 yards passing and 2,000 yards rushing in his career.
This season, he completed 130 of 240 passes for 2,165 yards. He also ran for 856 yards on 172 carries. He helped Neshannock make to a WPIAL title game for the first time in school history.
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