Jeannette’s Kennedy named Westmoreland Tribune-Review Football Player of the Year
By: Paul Schofield
Saturday, December 16, 2017 | 8:51 PM
Player of the Year
Robert Kennedy, QB/WR/DB
Jeannette, Sr., 5-10, 175
One of the things coaches like about Robert Kennedy is his coolness under pressure.
When a game was on the line and Jeannette needed someone to make a play, the senior quarterback/wide receiver/defensive back provided it. Just ask Clairton, Imani Christian, Farrell and Homer-Center — the teams the Jayhawks defeated en route to claiming WPIAL and PIAA Class A championships.
For those clutch plays and his performance throughout the season, Kennedy was named the 2017 Tribune-Review Player of the Year.
He turned in an MVP performance in the PIAA title game, rushing for 114 yards and two touchdowns, passing for 143 yards and two scores and catching a 46-yard pass.
His 56-yard touchdown run in the second quarter shocked Homer-Center's defense and propelled Jeannette to a 42-12 victory for its second PIAA title. The Jayhawks also won a ninth WPIAL title and overtook New Castle for most wins in WPIAL history, with 736.
Kennedy completed 87 of 152 passes for 1,462 yards and 25 touchdowns, and rushed for 1,356 yards 22 touchdowns. He also moved to wide receiver when Seth Howard played quarterback and caught eight passes for 192 yards and one touchdown.
He also had 12 interceptions — two against Farrell in the state semifinals — and had six (punt and interception) returns for touchdowns.
Kennedy has yet to make a decision about his college future, but hopes to play for a NCAA Division I program. He has offers from Duquesne, Robert Morris, Albany and Howard, among others and has received interest from Pitt and Rutgers.
What was it like to lead Jeannette to the PIAA title?
It still hasn't sunk in yet. It's a surreal feeling when everyone is calling you state champs and stuff. It's crazy, a good thing.
What was your favorite part of that game?
When we celebrated and we threw the Gatorade or water on coach (Roy) Hall. When you know it's over and you're celebrating with your team is the best feeling.
How were you able to bounce back after a Week 9 loss to Clairton?
Before the Clairton game we were very cocky. They had lost to Imani (Christian Academy) a few weeks before and since we beat Imani badly, we got cocky and the loss woke us up and brought us together as a team. It humbled us for sure.
How did it feel after beating Clairton in the rematch?
Just being able to finally beat the team that had been beating on us for the last four years, it was amazing; you really can't explain it or how to celebrate after you win.
Did you gain their respect?
We may have to beat them a few more times for that to happen. They might have thought it was a fluke game. I think they respect us a little more.
The WPIAL championship game against Imani went down to the wire. What happened on the Saints' two-point conversion try that you intercepted at the end?
Wide receiver Sam Fairly is not the best thrower; I saw him coming on the jet sweep and when he put his arm up like he was going to throw I acted like I was going to tackle him, and as soon as he threw it, I reacted and picked the ball off in front of R.J. Hart. That was the easy play; the hardest play was running the clock out.
How was the team able to shut down a Farrell offense that was averaging more than 43 points in the state semifinals?
The coaches set up a very good plan against them, mainly to stop the run and to stop No. 5 (Jourdan Townsend), and he wasn't a factor in our game. I followed him around that game. Anthony Johnson and Jalen Jones, the best D-linemen in Class A and I'd put them against 6A, 5A it doesn't matter, they had a good game, and we did as a team.
What music do you listen to and who is your favorite artist?
I like to listen to the Migos a lot; they're probably my favorite group, and I like to listen to Lil Eazy-E too.
What is your favorite meal that your mom makes?
I love my mom's mac ‘n cheese. I let my sister eat first, and then I finish it.
Do you have a favorite teacher at Jeannette?
My favorite teacher is Miss (Sarah) Brainard; she is the nicest lady you could ever meet. She's one of the best teachers here, and English is my favorite subject. That is what she teaches.
Are there any rituals you or the team had before games?
I usually say a prayer after the team prays. It's an every game thing. I've been doing it since midgets. I also on Thursday before a game get a milkshake from either McDonalds or Steak & Shake.
The last time Jeannette won WPIAL and PIAA football titles, it won the WPIAL and PIAA basketball titles. Is that achievable?
We're definitely going after both basketball titles, and I think we can do it in baseball, too.
Who would play you in a movie?
Probably my little cousin, Kymone (Brown). He is up and coming. He's going to be a great Jayhawk also. If it was a movie, it would be like “Space Jam.” That's the best movie ever.
If you were to star in a movie, what would it be?
I'd probably like to star in a basketball-theme movie or a comedy, something funny.
What does it mean to be a Jayhawk?
You can tell by just how the city shows up for games, it means everything. Everybody is behind you: the whole city is pushing you, teachers in the building, and our principal (Patricia Rozycki), she's big on the Jayhawks. Just to be one, especially a role player, it's amazing.
Latrobe, QB, Sr., 6-2, 220
Armstrong was named to the WPIAL Class 5A Big East Conference first team as a multi-back. He completed 112 of 189 passes for 1,484 yards and 10 touchdowns and rushed for 434 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Derry, RB/DB, Sr., 5-10, 140
Known as a tough runner, Broadway rushed for 651 yards and 12 touchdowns and had seven catches and a score. He also had an interception and was a first-team all-Interstate Conference defensive back.
Hempfield, TE/LB, Sr., 6-4, 235
Brose led the Spartans with 57 catches for 812 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also was one of the top tacklers on the team and he earned WPIAL Class 6A Southeastern Conference first-team honors as a tight end.
Jeannette, K/LB/WR, Sr., 6-3, 165
The slender wide receiver caught touchdown passes in the WPIAL and PIAA championship games. He had 30 catches for 466 yards and seven touchdowns and also booted 55 extra points and four field goals.
Ligonier Valley, WR/QB/DB, Sr., 6-3, 185
This all-around athlete rushed for a team-high 1,040 yards and 19 touchdowns, caught 42 passes for 876 yards and 10 touchdowns and completed 26 of 35 passes for 544 yards and nine touchdowns in helping Ligonier Valley to a PIAA District 6 2A title.
Derry, FB/LB, Jr., 6-4, 210
He was a dominating defender who earned WPIAL Class 3A Interstate Conference first-team honors at linebacker. He had one interception, and his fumble return for a touchdown led Derry to a 43-0 win at South Park.
Ligonier Valley, RB/LB, Sr., 5-10, 193
While he only rushed for 237 yards and five touchdowns, he was a terror on defense. Dubics led the Rams with 80 solo tackles, 10 for losses, and 126 total tackles. He sacked the quarterback once.
Penn-Trafford, RB, Sr., 6-0, 190
Gay, a WPIAL Class 5A Big East Conference first-team running back, rushed for 1,285 yards and 19 touchdowns. He also caught nine passes for 144 yards. He is receiving Division I interest.
Penn-Trafford, OL/DT, Sr., 6-2, 270
The Akron recruit was a WPIAL Class 5A Big East Conference first-team defensive tackle, helping the Warriors capture the conference title and finish second in the WPIAL after falling to Gateway in the championship game.
Greensburg Salem, QB/LB, Sr., 6-2, 205
Hoyle earned first-team all-conference honors at quarterback in the WPIAL Class 4A Big 9 despite missing the final two games of the season. He completed 44 of 106 passes for 565 yards and five touchdowns. He also rushed for 510 yards and five scores. He also started at linebacker early in the season.
Jeannette, DE, Jr., 6-5, 205
Johnson made his debut with the football team and became the team's leading tackler (99.5 tackles), with five sacks and seven forced fumbles, and was a first-team all-Eastern Conference selection. A basketball standout, he is starting to receive some NCAA Division I interest in football.
Jeannette, OL/DL, Sr., 6-1, 208
Jones helped provide a solid defensive line presence for the Jayhawks with 82.5 tackles and 10.5 sacks. He also was a mainstay on the offensive line and was a first-team all-Eastern Conference selection.
Penn-Trafford, QB/LB, Sr., 6-2, 210
Laffoon was named to the WPIAL Class 5A Big East Conference first team as a linebacker. He also completed 97 of 181 passes for 1,511 yards and 15 touchdowns and rushed for 799 yards and eight scores for the district runners-up.
Franklin Regional, C/LB, Sr., 6-2, 241
Lauer became Franklin Regional's all-time leading tackler with 368, including 254 solo tackles. The first-team Big East Conference linebacker had 161 tackles this season, 105 solo, and led the Panthers to the WPIAL Class 5A playoffs. He had two quarterback sacks, three fumble recoveries and one interception. He has Duquesne and Robert Morris offers.
Franklin Regional, QB/WR/DB, Sr., 6-0, 177
Leopold was named a WPIAL Class 5A Big East Conference first-team wide receiver. He led the team in rushing with 540 yards and scored six touchdowns, caught 28 passes for 375 yards and played quarterback when Adam Rudzinski was injured. He also finished with 50 tackles and blocked four kicks.
Penn-Trafford, OL/DE, Sr., 6-2, 250
Mayr lined up along side of Hawkins and earned WPIAL Class 5A Big East Conference first-team honors at defensive end. The duo was tough to move, which made it tough for opponents to run the ball.
Norwin, OL/LB, Sr., 5-10, 205
His interception and touchdown return helped defeat rival Hempfield in Week 9 of the regular season. He earned WPIAL Class 6A Southeastern Conference first-team honors as a linebacker after making 104 tackles, 51 solo.
Belle Vernon, WR/DB, Sr., 6-2, 190
Pfrogner earned first-team honors in the WPIAL Class 4A Big 9 Conference as a defensive back. He caught 21 passes for 322 yards and scored seven touchdowns. He helped the Leopards upset Thomas Jefferson during the regular season to win the conference title.
Ligonier Valley, RB/LB, Sr., 5-11, 181
This bruising runner rushed for 974 yards and 12 touchdowns, and he caught 17 passes for 117 yards and two scores. He finished with 48 solo tackles, nine for losses, and two interceptions.
Yough, RB/S, Jr., 6-0, 185
Shoaf finished the regular season as the leading rusher in the WPIAL, with 1,808 yards and 15 touchdowns. He earned WPIAL Class 3A Interstate Conference first-team honors as a running back.
Hempfield, WB, Sr., 6-1, 195
Despite missing three games with an injury, Sliwoski still managed to complete 120 of 223 passes for 1,668 yards and 19 touchdowns. He earned WPIAL Class 6A Southeastern Conference second-team honors.
Norwin, RB/DB, Jr., 5-11, 189
Thrift earned WPIAL Class 6A Southeastern Conference first-team honors as a defensive back. He rushed for 383 yards and caught nine passes for 80 yards. He scored seven touchdowns. On defense, he made 79 tackles. He's received Division I offers from West Virginia, Pitt, Syracuse and Temple.
Ligonier Valley, WR/DB, Jr., 5-11, 170
Tutino caught 55 passes for 1,030 yards and 16 touchdowns, and he rushed for 317 yards and five scores. He also led the team with six interceptions. It was the second consecutive season he had 55 catches. He had 18 touchdowns and 1,183 yards in 2016.
Belle Vernon, T/DT, Sr., 6-6, 305
This Pitt commit helped solidify the Leopards' offensive line en route to the WPIAL Class 4A Big 9 Conference title. He battled an ankle injury during the season but recovered to earn all-conference second-team honors.