North Allegheny’s Percise Colon draws big comparisons after victory over Mt. Lebanon
Friday, September 20, 2019 | 10:49 PM
Art Walker has a small-but-sensational running back who’s undersized and maybe underestimated, but one that could lead the team to a championship.
Fifteen years after Eugene Jarvis slashed through WPIAL defenses, Percise Colon is doing the same.
The 5-foot-6, 165-pound senior rushed for 150 yards and two touchdowns Friday night as second-ranked North Allegheny defeated No. 4 Mt. Lebanon, 40-14, at Newman Stadium.
A 64-yard run by Colon was one of four long touchdowns scored by the Tigers (5-0, 4-0), who remained undefeated and in first place in WPIAL Class 6A.
“Colleges are the guys who get hung up on size,” Walker said. “For us, if you’ve got heart and will — and speed helps when you’re smaller — if you prove to us that you can do it, you’re going to play.”
Jarvis (5-5, 170) was a 2,000-yard rusher in 2004 when Walker’s undefeated Central Catholic team won WPIAL and PIAA titles. Colon, who had 260 rushing yards and two touchdowns last week, has heard the comparisons.
“He’s told me about him,” Colon said. “He says that I play like him. I’m not him but it’s similar situations.”
Walker doesn’t want to burden Colon with comparisons to a former WPIAL player of the year, but says he sees obvious similarities in their big-play ability, vision, balance — and their stature.
“I’m the underdog because of my height,” Colon said, “but I work harder than most kids, so I’ll keep going at it and prove myself on the field every day.”
Mt. Lebanon (3-2, 3-1), under new coach Bob Palko, was trying to build off last week’s comeback win over Seneca Valley. The Blue Devils led 7-6 early Friday but trailed 19-14 at halftime and were shut out in the second half.
It was Mt. Lebanon’s 10th consecutive loss to North Allegheny dating back to 2005.
“We’re not as good as them right now,” Palko said. “That team has Artie’s fingerprints all over it. They run. They’re tough. They can throw. You can see it in their eyes. You can see it in their body language. They walked on that field tonight and they expected to win.
“We’re not there yet,” he added. “We’re getting there.”
North Allegheny rushed for 407 yards on 44 carries. Just as remarkable, NA’s defense held Mt. Lebanon to seven yards on 21 carries.
Colon, who had 15 carries, accumulated 142 yards and both touchdowns in the first half Friday as North Allegheny built a 19-14 halftime lead. Cramps forced him to exit early in the third quarter but the Tigers quickly pulled away.
Colon, unlike Jarvis, also plays defense. He had a key second-quarter interception at the 2-yard line, but he isn’t the only big-play threat on NA’s roster.
The Tigers needed only 11 seconds to score their first touchdown when Brayden Prekop returned the opening kickoff 75 yards to the end zone.
NA’s Luke Colella added a 69-yard touchdown on a third-quarter run to lead 26-14. Colella’s and Colon’s long scoring runs were both one-play touchdown drives.
“I was just happy to see a different guy do it other than Percise,” Walker said. “I was happy to see Luke fill the hole when Percise had cramps. He made a heck of a run and when he got outside, there’s nobody catching him.”
Nate Hoke added a 1-yard touchdown run in the fourth, and Kolin Dinkins had a 59-yarder in the final minute.
Joey Daniels threw two first-half touchdowns for Mt. Lebanon, a 29-yarder to Evan Jones and a 36-yarder to Mason Ventrone just before halftime.
Check out an archived broadcast of this game on the TribLive High School Sports Network.
Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .