Mt. Lebanon’s Alex Tecza commits to Navy football, joining Blue Devils teammate

Monday, January 24, 2022 | 3:00 PM

Mt. Lebanon’s Alex Tecza has played football with teammate Eli Heidenreich for as long as he can remember. As it turns out, high school graduation won’t break their bond.

Tecza committed to play football for Navy on Friday, five months after Heidenreich also committed to the Midshipmen. However, their lifelong friendship alone wasn’t what drew Tecza to the Naval Academy.

“I built a relationship with the coaches for over a year,” said Tecza, a 6-foot, 200-pound running back and defensive back, who drew his Navy offer last March. “They offered me pretty early, which was cool. That told me they were really interested.”

All-state voters last month named Tecza the PIAA Class 6A Player of the Year after Mt. Lebanon won the state title. He rushed for 2,085 yards and scored 26 touchdowns, with three TDs in the state finals. His performance helped the Blue Devils defeat three-time defending champion St. Joseph’s Prep, 35-17, in Hershey.

Navy recruited Tecza as a running back.

He visited the Annapolis, Md., campus in September to watch Navy host Air Force, and he came away liking the academy, its athletic facilities and the atmosphere. He chose Navy over offers from around a dozen other schools, many from the Ivy and Patriot leagues.

His coach, Bob Palko, insisted all fall that Tecza was under-recruited.

In recent weeks, Tecza considered holding out for a Power 5 offer from Pitt, Penn State, Michigan or Northwestern, schools he’d heard from since winning the state title. But ultimately he chose not to wait and decided Navy was a good destination for him.

“When you graduate from there, you’re really set for life,” Tecza said. “I think that’s the biggest thing for me. I’m going to come out of there with either a really good job or I’m going to be a captain in the military, which is very hard to do if you don’t go to the academies.”

Navy competes in the American Athletic Conference, a league that includes national semifinalist Cincinnati. The Midshipmen went 4-8 overall last season, 3-5 in the AAC. They lost to Cincinnati, 27-20.

Navy’s schedule for next fall includes a game against Notre Dame at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. The Midshipmen visited South Bend, Ind., last fall.

“It’s big-time football,” Tecza said. “They get to play teams all around the country.”

Tecza and Heidenreich, a wide receiver and defensive back, each earned Trib 25 honors this past season. Mt. Lebanon went 15-0 and won the first state football title in school history behind its talented senior class.

Heidenreich committed to Navy in August and soon became that school’s best recruiter.

“When he committed and he knew I had the (Navy) offer, he was on me every day,” Tecza said, laughing. “When I finally told him I’d committed, he was very excited. I’ve grown up playing football with him since the first grade. I’ve been best friends with him since forever.

“The Naval Academy is a really hard school,” Tecza added. “Since he’s going there, I think it’s going to make it easier. I’ll have someone I know and I’ve played with for my whole life.”

Chris Harlan is a TribLive reporter covering sports. He joined the Trib in 2009 after seven years as a reporter at the Beaver County Times. He can be reached at


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