MSA SPORTS ELITE ELEVEN
Thursday, December 24, 2015 | 9:47 AM
The MSA Sports Elite 11 all-star team is quite offensive.
This year’s team has a handful of players who either put up record offensive numbers this season, or had statistics that put them in an elite class. Among those are quarterbacks Phil Jurkovec of Pine-Richland and Zach Chandler of Avonworth, Woodland Hills running back Miles Sanders, Aliquippa running back Kaezon Pugh and Armstrong running back Zane Dudek.
The team is picked by the MSA Sports staff and is made up of the top 11 players in the WPIAL, regardless of position. Eight of the players are seniors, two juniors and one sophomore. Three of the players were on WPIAL championship teams.
Here is a look at this years Elite 11.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR:
KAEZON PUGH, ALIQUIPPA
RB-LB, 6-2, 217, Sr.
Pugh was a four-year varsity player at Aliquippa and finished his career with a memorable senior year. Pugh helped Aliquippa win the WPIAL Class AA championship and the Quips made it to the PIAA final. Pugh finished with 2,451 yards on 273 carries and scored 35 touchdowns.
He finished his career 21 yards away from 5,000 rushing yards. He had 4,979 yards on 533 carries and would’ve been the third Aliquippa runner to have 5,000 yards.
Pugh has already made a verbal commitment to play at Pitt. He was recruited as a defensive player.
ZACH CHANDLER, AVONWORTH
QB, 6-4, 235, Sr.
Chandler’s sophomore and junior seasons ended early with injuries. His senior season ended with a WPIAL record.
Chandler set the WPIAL record for passing yardage in the regular season with 2,812 yards (153 of 257). The old record was set by current Steeler quarterback Bruce Gradkowski. Chandler also became the first WPIAL quarterback to throw for 400 yards twice in one season.
Chandler helped Avonworth to the WPIAL Class A quarterfinals and finished 177 of 305 for 3,106 yards. He was the seventh quarterback in WPIAL history to throw for 3,000 yards in a season.
ZANE DUDEK, ARMSTRONG
RB-DB, 5-10, 180, Jr.
This was Armstrong’s first year of existence after Ford City and Kittanning merged. Dudek brought plenty of attention to Armstrong. He won the WPIAL regular-season rushing title and became only the seventh player in WPIAL history to rush for 2,000 yards in the regular season. He finished with 2,059 yards on 220 carries. He also intercepted six passes from his safety position.
With one season left, Dudek already has more than 4,000 yards rushing. He has 4,022 on 422 carries. He is an excellent student with a 4.3 grade-point average and is getting some interest from Ivy League schools.
DAMAR HAMLIN, PITTSBURGH CENTRAL CATHOLIC
WR-DB, 6-2, 189, Sr.
Hamlin saw some time as a receiver, but is known for his defensive play. Rated the top defensive back in the state. He can play cornerback or safety. He is a hard hitter who also is excellent in pass coverage. He was one of the reasons Central Catholic had a tremendous defense and won WPIAL and PIAA Class AAAA championships.
Hamlin has been heavily recruited and has narrowed his college choices to Pitt, Penn State, Ohio State and Notre Dame.
HUNTER HAYES, SOUTH FAYETTE
RB-DB, 6-1, 195, Sr.
A key player in South Fayette’s successful run over the past few seasons. Over the 2014 and 2015 seasons, Hayes rushed for 3,483 yards and the Lions lost only one game during that time.
This season, Hayes rushed for 1,380 yards and averaged 8.5 yards a carry. He scored 22 touchdowns and also was one of the Lions’ best defensive players.
Ivy League and Patriot League schools are showing interest.
KHALEKE HUDSON, MCKEESPORT
RB-DB, 6-0, 210, Sr.
Hudson was a standout offensively and defensively the past two years for McKeesport. A few colleges recruiting Hudson have told him they would like him on defense, but also might give him a shot to play a little at running back.
This season, Hudson rushed for 1,258 yards and scored 25 touchdowns. He averaged 10.6 yards a carry. In two seasons, he scored 50 touchdowns and rushed for 2,902 yards.
PHIL JURKOVEC, PINE-RICHLAND
QB, 6-4, 190, Soph.
Jurkovec made quite a splash in his first season of varsity football. You could make a case for him having possibly the best season of any quarterback in WPIAL history. At minimum, the best of any sophomore.
Jurkovec was only the second quarterback in WPIAL history to throw for 2,000 yards and run for 1,000 in a season. He completed 176 of 265 for 2,575 yards and also rushed for 1,285 yards on 135 attempts and helped the Rams reach the WPIAL semifinals. He also has been a starter in basketball since his freshman year.
Jurkovec already has a handful of major-college scholarship offers in football. Pitt, Penn State, West Virginia, Notre Dame, Michigan State and UCLA have offered.
MILES SANDERS, WOODLAND HILLS
RB-DB 5-11, 205, Sr.
Miles ran for more than a couple miles in his career. He finished with 4,573 yards on 508 carries and scored 59 career touchdowns. Only the ninth running back in Class AAAA history to run for 4,000 yards. Finished fifth-leading rusher in Class AAAA history. This year, rushed for 1,523 yards on 136 carries and scored 16 touchdowns.
A four-year starter, Sanders is ranked as one of the top running backs in the country. He made verbal commitment to Penn State before his junior year. Others continued to recruit him, including Pitt, Alabama and Michigan State. But Sanders said recently he is all set on Penn State.
LOGAN THIMONS, FREEPORT
TE-DL, 6-1, 220, Sr.
Thimons was Mr. Everything this year for Freeport. On defense, he played tackle, end and even nose guard. He was a tight end and also fullback on offense. He set school single-season records for tackles, tackles for loss and sacks and helped his team make the WPIAL semifinals for the first time since 1990.
Thimons has already committed to West Virginia. He made the commitment to WVU before his junior season.
TIM VECCHIO, PENN-TRAFFORD
WR-DB, 5-10, 175, Sr.
Is not the biggest of players, but was gigantic during his career and especially during the Warriors’ run to the WPIAL Class AAAA title game this season for the first time since 1997. Finished this season with 53 catches for 1,116 yards. Not many players in WPIAL history have had 1,000 receiving yards two consecutive years. But Vecchio did. Caught 43 passes for 1,022 yards last season. Finished career with 136 catches for 2,820 yards.
Vecchio is a fine defensive back and had an incredible game earlier this season when he returned three interceptions for touchdowns.
Vecchio has decided to play next season at Robert Morris.
LAMONT WADE, CLAIRTON
RB-DB, 5-9, 190, Jr.
Wade is ranked one of the top juniors in the entire country. Rivals.com recently ranked him the No. 6 player in the class of 2017.
This season, Wade missed some time with an ankle injury, but still rushed for 1,308 yards on 148 attempts (8.8 average) and caught 15 receptions for 308 yards. He scored 22 touchdowns and also had two interceptions from his defensive back position.
For his career, he already has 4,711 yards rushing on 439 carries, 77 touchdowns and 39 receptions for 771 yards.
Wade has scholarship offers from schools across the country. Schools are recruiting him as a defensive back.
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