2022 TribLive HSSN Terrific 25 Football All-Stars
Wednesday, December 21, 2022 | 2:30 AM
Western Pennsylvania had five high school football teams reach the state finals this season, including a postseason run by Westinghouse that was the City League’s first PIAA championship game appearance in decades.
Pine-Richland, Aliquippa, Belle Vernon and Union also reached Cumberland Valley, the new home for the PIAA finals. Those teams and many other are represented here in the TribLive HSSN Terrific 25, which recognizes the top players from the WPIAL and City League.
North Allegheny, RB/LB
6-0, 205, junior
Alualu was a force in the middle of a defense that won the WPIAL Class 6A title. The inside linebacker had 61 tackles, including 11 for a loss, one interception, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. The Tigers (11-2) held opponents to 13 points per game. Alualu added 264 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
Upper St. Clair, WR/DB
6-3, 190, senior
Besselman’s two-way play helped the Panthers reach the WPIAL finals for the first time in 11 years. As one of the league’s top receivers, he caught 41 passes for 817 yards and scored 12 touchdowns. Defensively, he added 38 tackles and three interceptions. He holds close to 20 Division I offers.
5-9, 175, senior
Boyd was a two-way standout for a team that reached the WPIAL Class 4A semifinals. Despite an early-season injury, he rushed for 1,164 yards on 143 carries, scored 15 touchdowns and added seven interceptions as the Tigers went 11-2. He’ll graduate with more than 3,000 career rushing yards, 40 TDs and 15 INTs.
North Allegheny, WR/DB
5-10, 170, junior
Boyd proved himself as a big-play threat for the WPIAL Class 6A champions. He scored a team-high 12 touchdowns and had 42 catches for 742 yards. He surpassed 1,500 all-purpose yards, including a 98-yard TD on a kickoff return, and had a team-high seven interceptions on defense. Boyd was named the TribLive HSSN Class 6A Player of the Year.
Steel Valley, QB/DB
6-1, 180, senior
Brookins led the Ironmen to the WPIAL Class 2A title by scoring 35 touchdowns. He rushed for 1,663 yards and passed for 785 yards and seven more TDs. He also led the team with seven interceptions. He has college offers from Pitt, Cincinnati and Syracuse. Brookins was named the TribLive HSSN Class 2A Player of the Year.
6-4, 290, junior
A talented two-way lineman who started at guard and defensive tackle, Cory helped Pine-Richland control the line of scrimmage this season while winning WPIAL and PIAA Class 5A titles. The Rams offense averaged 205 rushing yards per game and scored 50 touchdowns. Cory lists more than a dozen college offers including Pitt and West Virginia.
6-3, 290, senior
Enick received the Bill Fralic Award earlier this month as the top lineman in the WPIAL. The Central Michigan recruit is a two-way standout, playing both center and defensive tackle for the Warriors, who reached the WPIAL Class 5A playoffs. Enick is a three-year starter whose teams went 25-9 and won a state title in 2021.
Central Valley, RB/LB
5-11, 185, senior
FitzSimmons was a first-year starter at running back but quickly proved himself as one of the top two-way players in the WPIAL. He rushed for 1,723 yards on 173 carries and scored 30 touchdowns for the WPIAL Class 4A runner-up. He also added 71 tackles on defense for a team that went 11-2.
Laurel Highlands, QB/WR/DB
6-0, 175, senior
Gallagher showed his versatility once again. He started the season at wide receiver and caught four touchdowns before moving back to quarterback. He then passed for 1,272 yards and 13 touchdowns and rushed for 690 yards and 11 more scores. Gallagher, also a basketball star for the Mustangs, committed to West Virginia to play wide receiver.
6-2, 185, senior
The Youngstown State recruit led Gateway’s defense with seven interceptions, one he returned for a touchdown. He also had 30 tackles and two forced fumbles for the Gators, who won a share of the conference title in the Big East. On offense, Harper had 38 catches for 619 yards and scored seven touchdowns.
5-11, 203, sophomore
Hayes rushed for 1,982 yards and scored 30 touchdowns as the Quips repeated as WPIAL Class 4A champions and returned to the state finals. He scored three times in the WPIAL finals. He’s already nearing 4,000 career yards. In two seasons, he has 496 career carries for 3,728 yards and 53 touchdowns. Hayes was named the TribLive HSSN Class 4A Player of the Year.
Seneca Valley, WR/DB
6-3, 210, senior
The Navy recruit was a leader on both sides of the ball. Lawson ranked fifth among all WPIAL receivers with 55 catches for 871 yards and scored a team-high 11 touchdowns. Defensively, he was a standout in the secondary who added two interceptions and 26 tackles.
6-2, 210, junior
Lindsey is a hard-hitting linebacker on a defense that won 25 consecutive games. He led the Quips with more than 100 tackles and three forced fumbles as they repeated as WPIAL Class 4A champions and reached the state finals for the second year in a row. Lindsey also scored five TDs. He has Pitt, Penn State and West Virginia among his college offers.
6-3, 200, senior
Lovelace helped the Blue Devils reach the WPIAL playoffs for the second year in a row. He rushed for 1,359 yards on 136 carries and scored 29 touchdowns. He pushed his career total past 4,000 yards. Strong on both sides of the ball, Lovelace was recruited to Pitt, where he’ll play linebacker.
Belle Vernon, RB/DB
6-3, 200, junior
Martin led the Leopards to their first state championship. He accounted for 31 of his team’s 70 touchdowns, including the only one Belle Vernon scored in the PIAA Class 3A final. He rushed for 1,279 yards and added 424 yards more on 28 catches. Defensively, he had four interceptions. Martin was named the TribLive HSSN Class 3A Player of the Year.
Thomas Jefferson, TE/DE
6-5, 210, senior
Mayer was already one of the top pass rushers, but this year showed his pass-catching abilities as the Jaguars reached the WPIAL Class 4A semifinals. He had 21 receptions for 266 yards and three touchdowns, earning all-conference honors on that side of the football. Defensively, the Wisconsin recruit had 47 tackles, five sacks and one forced fumble.
6-2, 190, senior
With Morsillo at quarterback, Westinghouse became the first City League team to reach the state finals since 1997. He passed for 2,544 yards and 43 touchdowns as the Bulldogs went 14-1, won the City League title and reached the Class 2A final. He also added 916 rushing yards and 16 TDs.
6-5, 220, senior
The Penn recruit led the WPIAL in passing with 3,210 yards and 43 touchdowns as the River Hawks went 10-2 and won the Greater Allegheny title. He completed 64% of his attempts (203 of 319). This was the third year in a row that Olsen topped 2,000 yards passing in a season. He finished his career with 7,819 yards, which ranks seventh in WPIAL history.
5-11, 180, senior
Palmieri had one of the all-time best individual efforts in the state finals. He rushed for two TDs, threw for another and also returned an interception to the end zone as the Rams won the Class 5A title. He finished the year with 1,929 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns and also passed for 1,104 yards and 10 more scores. He was named the TribLive HSSN Class 5A Player of the Year.
Central Catholic, TE/LB
6-4, 195, senior
A cast on his hand limited Sullivan to playing defense for most of the season, but he emerged as one of the WPIAL’s top linebackers with 117 tackles. Once the cast was removed, he showed his potential at tight end by catching 13 passes for 241 yards and a touchdown for the WPIAL Class 6A runners-up. He has Boston College among his first Division I offers.
5-11, 180, senior
Stevenson played a leading role in a historic season by rushing for 2,342 yards and scoring 45 touchdowns. As a result, the Maples celebrated their first undefeated regular season since 1968 and won the first playoff game in team history. He graduates with 5,993 career rushing yards and 102 touchdowns.
6-2, 180, junior
Thomas led the Scotties on a historic playoff run to the state finals. The junior topped 1,000 yards both rushing and passing as Union won its first WPIAL title since 1959. He rushed 252 times for 1,466 yards and 20 touchdowns, including the first two in the WPIAL Class A finals. He passed for 1,202 yards and 14 more scores.
Central Valley, WR/DB
6-2, 190, senior
Thompson earned all-conference honors on both sides of the ball. He scored 16 touchdowns for the WPIAL Class 4A runners-up and had 37 catches for 683 yards. Defensively, he added 69 tackles and five interceptions for a team that had a 36-game winning streak. He has close to 10 college offers, most recently from Lehigh and Youngstown State.
6-1, 183, senior
Walker is the latest in a line of standout defensive backs for the Quips. He had seven interceptions this fall for the WPIAL Class 4A champions but also was a big-play threat on offense. Walker caught 33 passes for 586 yards and scored six times as the team went 13-1 and returned to the state finals. He has more than a dozen Division I college offers.
Central Catholic, QB
6-1, 165, junior
Wehner ranked second among WPIAL passers with 2,504 yards and was the first Central Catholic QB to top 2,000 in the regular season. He teamed with receivers Vernon Settles (54 catches) and Peter Gonzalez (42) to take the Vikings to the WPIAL Class 6A final. Wehner completed 62% of his throws, passed for 17 touchdowns and rushed for five more.
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2022 HSSN Postseason Awards
Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .
Tags: Aliquippa, Armstrong, Belle Vernon, Central Catholic, Central Valley, Gateway, Laurel Highlands, Leechburg, Mapletown, McKeesport, North Allegheny, Penn-Trafford, Pine-Richland, Seneca Valley, Steel Valley, Thomas Jefferson, Union, Upper St. Clair, Westinghouse
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