2022 Trib HSSN Preseason Football All-Star Team: Aliquippa’s Tiqwai Hayes
Tuesday, July 5, 2022 | 5:16 PM
Editor’s note: The Tribune-Review and the TribLive High School Sports Network are profiling each member of the 25-player Trib HSSN Preseason Football All-Star team. The players will be recognized July 15 during HSSN Media Day at Kennywood Park.
At this time last summer, Tiqwai “Tikey” Hayes was running routes as a slot receiver and wondering whether he’d play much as a freshman. He certainly wasn’t imagining three touchdowns in the state championship.
“We already had running backs, so I thought I’d sit the bench my whole freshman year,” said Hayes, who instead rushed for 1,759 yards, scored 23 times and played a leading role in the Quips winning both WPIAL and PIAA titles last season.
That was far more success than most players dream about, earning him major college offers at a young age, but his coach insists that hasn’t satisfied him. The team returns most of last year’s roster, and Hayes says he’s working daily toward another championship ring.
“You see Tikey up there putting in extra work every day,” Warfield said. “He has the mentality that he wants to be the best. He is very competitive. You look at him, you look at his body, for a young kid who just turned 15 years old, he has a body of a man. He works at it.”
Hayes now measures 6-foot and 193 pounds.
“I’m getting way, way faster and a lot, lot, lot stronger than I was last year,” Hayes said. “I’ve also gotten bigger and taller.”
Aliquippa coaches decided to give him some carries in the season opener a year ago and were impressed when Hayes ran like a bull in the backfield. Coaches liked the way Hayes hit the hole his linemen created. On his first carry, he proved to everyone he wasn’t a timid runner.
“I’ll never forget that play,” Warfield said. “When he hit it, we were like, ‘Whoa! That’s different.’ As time went on, he got more and more opportunities.”
Hayes finished his freshman year with 245 carries, second most in the WPIAL last season. His stats included a 27-carry, 151-yard, two-touchdown game at Heinz Field in the WPIAL finals.
In the state finals, Hayes rushed 32 times for 141 yards and three touchdowns.
“In Aliquippa, we play the best,” Warfield said. “We don’t care if you’re a second grader. If you’re the best, you play. That’s just the way that it is. He earned it. Nothing was given to him.”
What made Hayes different than many other young running backs was he wasn’t trying to turn every carry into a long touchdown, Warfield said. The Quips coaches liked that Hayes was determined to gain ground on every carry.
“Typically, with younger kids coming from the Pop Warner leagues, if you’ve had success, you’re used to running 70- or 80-yard touchdowns,” Warfield said. “But our mottos is ‘We want first downs, not touchdowns.’ He hits the hole the right way. There’s no dancing. That shows you his football IQ.”
6-0, 193 pounds
Division I offers: Pitt, Penn State, West Virginia, Cincinnati, Louisville, Michigan, Maryland, Syracuse, UConn, UMass
2021 statistics: 245 carries for 1,759 yards and 23 touchdowns
Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .
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