Deabner ready to help Thomas Jefferson back to top of WPIAL Class 4A

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Thursday, July 4, 2019 | 6:18 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 HSSN Media Day at Kennywood Park.

Everything was status quo for Thomas Jefferson heading into last year’s WPIAL Class 4A title game. Another conference championship went along with an undefeated regular season and two impressive playoff wins to set the stage for a fourth straight district crown.

Another title, however, was picked off as a late interception helped South Fayette stun Thomas Jefferson, 31-24, at Heinz Field.

“We had some close games that we had to win in the end to keep our chances of making it to Heinz field alive, but losing to South Fayette was terrible for all of us,” Thomas Jefferson’s Daniel Deabner said.

“All season, we worked toward winning that game and more in the state playoffs, so coming up short made all our wins in the season feel like nothing.”

The rising senior wide receiver and cornerback is ready to wipe away the bad taste of that title game as he and the Jaguars prepare for better things.

“I think we will be very good this year due to only losing a couple seniors from last year,” Deabner said. “We will be able to run and pass well behind our physical offensive line. It is just up to us, as a team, on how far we make it.”

Deabner (6-foot, 185 pounds), who has an other from Valparaiso, is ready to be a big part of the Jaguars’ success.

Last year, Deabner finished fifth in the WPIAL with 59 receptions for 1,365 yards for an average of 23.1 yards per catch. His 21 touchdowns were second-best for Thomas Jefferson.

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“He plays fast and has excellent hands,” Thomas Jefferson coach Bill Cherpak said. “He has really grown as a player both physically and mentally and continually works to get better.”

Deabner said his strengths are on offense.

“My strengths would be my route running and my catching ability,” he said. “I need to work on my defense a lot more going into the year.”

When asked what he is looking forward to for his senior season, Deabner said the crowd is what makes high school football “special.”

“Friday night games are so special to us because of the fan base we have,” Deabner said. “Each game there is a different alumni on the sideline coming back to still watch and support TJ football. Also, just being able to go out and compete with my friends on the field makes the games so special.”

The expectations are always high for Thomas Jefferson, and Deabner should play a key role this season.

“I expect him to be one of the leaders of our team and to be a big playmaker for us,” Cherpak said. “He has all the skills to be the top receiver in the WPIAL.”

Deabner and 24 others will be honored at Kennywood Park. What is this explosive receivers favorite ride at the amusement park?

“My favorite ride would be the Volcano.”

Daniel Deabner

School: Thomas Jefferson

Class: Senior

Ht/wt: 6-0/185

Positions: WR/DB

Division I offer: Valparaiso

2018 statistics: 59 receptions, 1,365 yards, 89 yards rushing, 21 touchdowns, 2 extra points

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

Don Rebel hosts the Rebel Yell podcasts for HSSN.

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