Football endeavors keep Kennedy, Johnson from Jeannette hoops finale

Saturday, February 10, 2018 | 2:09 PM

Jeannette will be without two key players in its regular-season boys basketball finale Saturday night at Riverview.

Senior Robert Kennedy will be in Harrisburg for the Mr. PA Football awards banquet, while junior Anthony Johnson is on a football visit to Michigan State.

Kennedy is one of six finalists for the Small School (3A-A) award, joining Quaker Valley's Ricky Guss, Middletown's Brady Fox, Williams Valley's Dylan Rabuck, Julian Fleming of Southern Columbia, and Hunter Webb of Loyalsock.

Kennedy and Rabuck shared Class A state player of the year honors.

Attending the banquet for the state's top players is like a scaled-down version of the Heisman Trophy presentation. And the winner is …

“It's a honor to be invited,” said Kennedy, a standout quarterback, receiver and defensive back for the WPIAL and PIAA champion Jayhawks this season. “And it does feel like the Heisman. But either way, if I win or somebody else wins, I'll be happy because we all did something to deserve it.”

Kennedy announced last week he will attend Lackawanna, a junior college in Scranton, “To become a better student-athlete and to pursue my dreams.”

He added on Twitter: “Please respect my decision.”

Kennedy accounted for over 2,800 yards of total offense and 54 touchdowns, and also intercepted 12 passes.

Johnson's recruiting is picking up quickly after a breakthrough season at defensive end. He had not played football since middle school but led the Jayhawks with 99.5 tackles.

He was invited to Michigan State's junior day.

“I'm hoping for an offer,” he said.

Pitt, Penn State, West Virginia, Memphis, Toledo and Iowa State also have shown interest in Johnson (6-5, 220). He plans to visit Memphis on March 17 and said he'll visit Pitt “soon.”

Johnson did not play in the first basketball game against Riverview as he nursed a sprained ankle. He missed six games with the injury but returned Friday night to help Jeannette post a 61-33 win at rival Greensburg Central Catholic. He had 11 points and four assists in the win that clinched a share of the Section 1-2A title for the Jayhawks (16-3, 10-1).

Jeannette, ranked No. 3 in the WPIAL and No. 9 in the state in Class 2A, needs to beat Riverview (2-18, 0-11) to take the section outright.

Serra Catholic finished 10-2 in section.

“I believe in all my guys, so somebody will step up,” Jeannette coach Adrian Batts said. “Now who does will remain to be seen.”

Finalists for the Big School Mr. PA Football award (4A-6A) are Pine-Richland's Phil Jurkovec, New Castle's Marcus Hooker, Micah Parsons of Harrisburg, Joe Mischler of Cathedral Prep, Achbishop Wood's Nasir Peoples, and Charlie Katshir of Cumberland Valley.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at or via Twitter @BillBeckner.

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