Blackhawk’s Watson-Trent looks to bounce back after injury-shortened season

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Saturday, July 20, 2019 | 4:01 PM


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 23 during a HSSN Media Day live broadcast at Kennywood Park.

When Zack Hayward first stepped into the weight room at Blackhawk High School last year, he walked around and talked to the players and the coaching staff.

He didn’t know too many of the players at the time, so he asked the coaches who had been around the program, who might be the playmakers for his first year at the helm. That was when Hayward took notice Marques Watson-Trent.

“You could just see from his work ethic that he was explosive, and you could see that he had the intangibles to be a really good athlete,” Hayward said. “Then, as soon as we got into spring ball, he shot through the rest of the players.”

That continued into the season as the Cougars went 10-2 and won 10 games for the first time since 2008. Watson-Trent was a big part of that. He produced 1,050 yards from scrimmage and also found the end zone 15 times. In a matchup against Highlands on Sept. 7, Watson-Trent put up a season-high 125 yards on the ground and ran for two touchdowns.

As a two-way player, the 6-foot, 190-pound defensive back was a leader on the defensive side of the ball. Hayward said he leads by example and is always in the right place. He intercepted one pass, caused four fumbles and had three pass deflections to go with 70 tackles.

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But Watson-Trent’s breakout junior season was derailed by mononucleosis late in the season, and he was forced to miss Blackhawk’s final four games, including their WPIAL Class 4A playoff run. Because of that, he felt like he left the season on a bad note, and he’s looking to make up for it.

“It definitely motivated me for this season for sure,” Watson-Trent said.

The Cougars were loaded with senior athletes last season, and Watson-Trent played a smaller role on the offensive side of the ball because of that. But with the type of talent he displayed, Hayward said he would be playing a bigger role on both sides as a senior.

Because of a shortened junior season and a lack of film from his sophomore season, Watson-Trent didn’t start receiving attention from colleges until this past year. He received his first offer before his junior season and has since garnered offers from 16 schools such as Maine, Lehigh and Holy Cross.

But, Watson-Trent says other schools like Pitt, Virginia Tech and Syracuse have showed interest and are just waiting to see how his senior season goes; he doesn’t plan on making a commitment until after the season.

He said most teams have expressed interest in moving him to safety at the next level, so he has been working on his speed, quickness and agility, along with his conditioning this offseason. Outside of his individual accomplishments, Watson-Trent is hoping to help his team as much as possible.

“We definitely want to win a WPIAL championship, state championship; that’s always the goal,” Watson-Trent said. “But I want to be here for my teammates and create a brotherhood. This is my last ride with the seniors, the guys I’ve been with for four years. We definitely want to make it fun and just enjoy it.”

Having those types of qualities is something that Hayward believes sets Watson-Trent apart, and said that for all the talent he displays on the field, he’s even better off of it.

“As a person he’s even better than he is as a player, that’s why all the kids love him,” the second-year coach said. “He gets along with every kid on the team because one, he leads by example and, two, he’s always there for the team.”

When the Cougars take the field this season, they’ll be looking to return to the playoffs for a second straight season. They’ll be led by a player who’s hoping to make up for a shortened season and wants to lead from the front.

“I want to be a more vocal leader for sure,” Watson-Trent said. “You can always lead by example, but few people can lead vocally and be there for their team.”

Marques Watson-Trent file

School: Blackhawk

Class: Senior

Ht/wt: 6-0/190

Positions: DB/RB

Stars: None

Division I offers: New Hampshire, Maine, Monmouth, Fordham , Rhode Island, Sacred Heart, Cornell, Navy, Holy Cross, Lehigh, Notre Dame College, William and Mary, Robert Morris, Youngstown State, Howard, Duquense.

2018 statistics: 1,050 total yards, 15 total touchdowns. 1 interception, 5 forced fumbles, 70 tackles

Trib HSSN Preseason All-Stars

A.J. Beatty, Central Catholic

Fintan Brose, Hempfield

Tui Brown, Gateway

Michael Carmody, Mars

Josh Casilli, Peters Township

Johnny Crise, Highlands

Derrick Davis, Gateway

Daniel Deabner, Thomas Jefferson

Deamontae Diggs, McKeesport

Dorien Ford, Baldwin

Aaron Gunn, Union

Dayon Hayes, Westinghouse

Nahki Johnson, West Mifflin

Josh Kaltenberger, Seneca Valley

Caleb Lisbon, Penn-Trafford

Jake Lugg, North Allegheny

Luke Meckler, Pine-Richland

George Padezanin, Montour

Joshua Rawlings, Woodland Hills

Jack Salopek, Norwin

Aakeem Snell, Penn Hills

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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