After close call last year, McKeesport hopes to make a run at Class 4A gold

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Monday, August 15, 2022 | 12:12 PM


Former Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Bill Cowher used to say, “there is a fine line between winning and losing in the NFL.”

The same could be said for high school football.

One district team that found out the hard way how true that statement was in 2021 was McKeesport.

The Tigers finished in second place to Belle Vernon in the 4A Big Eight Conference and lost a heartbreaker in the WPIAL semifinals to eventual district and state champion Aliquippa.

“I sum up the 2021 season with one word: close,” McKeesport coach Matt Miller said. “We had some really nice victories, but came up a play or two short last year from our ultimate goal.”

The Tigers quarterback tandem of Caleb Reist and Jacob Miller have graduated, but McKeesport does return dynamic senior running back Bobbie Boyd.

“We are always a run-attack-heavy offense,” Miller said. “That will continue this season as well with Bobbie back. Plus I’m excited about our young offensive line.”

Boyd is only one of four returning starters on offense, but the three-year starter is a special weapon at running back and safety.

“One of the best running backs in the WPIAL,” Miller said. “He is also a force on defensive side of the ball.”

Boyd rushed for 1,545 yards on 171 carries for a whopping nine yards per carry. He led the Tigers in scoring with 16 touchdowns.

While his numbers are big, Boyd stands only 5-foot-9.

“I would say my size helps me,” Boyd said. “I’m smaller and fit through smaller gaps, making me a little harder to tackle.”

Anchoring the young offensive and defensive line for McKeesport will be 6-3, 315-pound senior Dimitri Brooks.

The Swiss Army knife for McKeesport on offense and defense might by three-year starter Jahmil Perryman, a senior.

“He can do anything on the football field,” Miller said. “He is a dynamic free safety and will be playing a major role in our offense.”

Seven starters return for a Tigers defense that registered two shutouts last year and held five opponents to single-digit points.

Leading the way are senior linebackers Devin Long and Shayne McGraw.

“Devin is the signal caller on our defense,” Miller said. “He is smart and athletic. Shayne had a lot of splash plays for us last season and we expect even more from him this year.”

After realignment, the Tigers return to the Class 4A Big Seven Conference to battle familiar foes Laurel Highlands, Ringgold, Trinity and Thomas Jefferson along with newcomers Connellsville and Latrobe.

“This is going to be a competitive conference with some new schools coming down from 5A,” Miller said. “There are some new coaches and a couple of traditional strong schools back.”

As a team leader, Boyd is excited to begin the process toward what he believes will be a special season.

“We have a great team this year,” he said, “so I expect to win it all.”

McKeesport

Coach: Matt Miller

2021 record: 5-1, 9-3

All-time record: 675-412-47

SCHEDULE

Date, Opponent, Time

8.26 at West Mifflin, 7

9.2 at Penn-Trafford, 7:30

9.9 Belle Vernon, 7

9.16 at Laurel Highlands*, 7

9.23 Trinity*, 7

9.30 at Ringgold*, 7

10.7 Connellsville*, 7

10.14 Gateway, 7

10.21 at Latrobe*, 7

10.28 Thomas Jefferson*, 7

*Conference game

STATISTICAL LEADERS

Passing: Caleb Reist*

22-48, 357 yards, 3 TDs

Rushing: Bobbie Boyd

171-1,545, 16 TDs

Receiving: Dennis Jackson*

15-309, 5 TDs

*Graduated

FAST FACTS

• Matt Miller begins his seventh season as head coach at McKeesport after taking over for the legendary George Smith prior to the 2016 season. The Tigers are 50-18 with one title game appearance in those six seasons.

• Not only have the Tigers qualified for the WPIAL football playoffs in all six of Miller’s seasons, they have reached the district postseason 24 straight years. The last time McKeesport missed was in 1997 when only the top three teams qualified and the Tigers finished 6-4 overall and in fourth place in the Quad East Conference.

• This is the 90th anniversary of McKeesport’s first WPIAL football championship, one it was awarded along with New Castle and Jeannette in 1932. Six years later, the Tigers won their first outright district crown in 1938. The program also won WPIAL and PIAA gold in 1994 and 2005.

• This is the 122nd season of McKeesport football, including preceding schools in the district. With 675, the Tigers have the eighth-most wins in the WPIAL.

Note: Due to publishing scheduling conflicts, previews for Big Seven Conference teams Connellsville, Laurel Highlands and Ringgold will appear on Trib HSSN next week.

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