Seniors who drove Plum football to new heights make college choices on signing day

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Wednesday, December 16, 2020 | 4:28 PM


Evan Azzara anchored the Plum offensive line with power for several years.

Now, the 6-foot-6, 290-pound senior is signed, sealed and delivered for what he hopes is the same kind of success at Miami (Ohio).

Azzara was one of nearly two dozen from the WPIAL and City League to sign with their Division I FBS schools of choice Wednesday, the first day of the NCAA’s national letter of intent early signing period for football.

“There are still six or seven months to go until I get up to campus, and then the real work will start,” said Azzara, a first-team All-Greater Allegheny Conference selection in 2020 who also picked up all-state recognition from Max Preps. “I still know I can and will put in a lot more work to get to where I want to be.

“This still hasn’t fully set in yet, but I know I couldn’t have done this without the support from my family, friends, teammates and coaches.”

Azzara, who verbally committed to the Redhawks in March, right before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, was joined by classmate Max Matolcsy, who signed with Penn from the Ivy League.

The Mustangs outside linebacker and tight end finalized the decision he made with the Quakers on his 18th birthday in August.

“I played with my friends and teammates for at least 10 years, and especially these last four years, we worked so hard for things,” said Matolcsy, who also earned all-conference honors and joined Azzara on the Valley News Dispatch all-star first team.

“It’s a little sad knowing that I won’t be playing with them again, but I know I am going to be getting the same type of dedicated brothers for the next four years. I am really excited for that.”

Azzara and Matolcsy were two centerpiece players on a senior-driven Plum squad that set school records in 2020. The Mustangs, 8-1 overall, produced their first undefeated regular season since 1977, their first conference title since 1983 and their first trip to the WPIAL semifinals since 1996. They gave eventual WPIAL and PIAA Class 4A champion Thomas Jefferson all it could handle before losing 20-17 in the semifinals.

While Azzara and Matolcsy gathered at Plum on Wednesday to celebrate with family and friends, Kiski Area senior tight end and defensive end Jack Dilts, a Duquesne commit, put pen to paper, surrounded by loved ones, at home.

Dilts, who verbally committed to the Dukes in early October, was a key force on both sides of the ball for the Cavaliers, who finished 2-4 overall and 1-4 in the Class 5A Northeast Conference. He also picked up all-conference first-team honors and was selected to the VND first team.

“(The recruiting process) was kind of crazy with the coronavirus, but I am just glad to now be locked in,” Dilts said. “This is definitely a dream come true for me to be able to sign with a Division I school and see all the hard work pay off. I really like Duquesne, and I think it will give me a lot of great opportunities.”

Wednesday was just the first day of several for Division I and II recruits to make their decisions final.

The early signing period runs through Friday, and the regular signing period begins Feb. 3 and extends through April 1 for Division I and Aug. 1 for Division II.

A number of Alle-Kiski Valley athletes still are seeking to sign letters of intent. Included in that group is Kiski Area senior running back/defensive back Kenny Blake, who gave a verbal commitment to Albany in late September.

Others from Plum, as well as from schools such as Springdale and Burrell, are expected to finalize college choices in the coming days or weeks.

“Today’s signing day was a little different from what it usually is, but it was just great to be a part of it,” Matolcsy said.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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