Thomas Jefferson lineman Alby Breisinger honored with award named for his uncle

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Sunday, June 20, 2021 | 11:01 AM


He’s a natural.

• Same family dynamics.

• Same first and last name.

• A great fit as a student-athlete on and off the football field.

Senior lineman Alby Breisinger was the recipient of this year’s prestigious Breisinger Award at Thomas Jefferson. He found out about the honor June 1 at the TJ football team’s state championship ring ceremony held at the high school auditorium.

The 6-foot-2, 250-pound Breisinger manned a guard position on the Jaguars’ offensive line last fall.

“I am extremely honored,” Breisinger said. “I really believe my Uncle Alby is looking down and is proud of me for winning this award. After I won it, I saw my grandma’s smile and that really made my night because I knew she wanted me to win so badly. Also, I am humbled that my teammates view me in this light and voted me to win the award.

“I have dreamed of winning this award since I first learned about it. I felt some pressure to win it because one of my main goals in life is to make my uncle and grandfather proud of the person I am. I was named after my uncle and my grandfather, who where both named Albert James Breisinger. I am the last Breisinger football player (at TJ) for the forseeable future.”

The Breisinger Award was established in 1979 and named after former Pleasant Hills police officer Albert Breisinger. It is presented annually to a senior gridder at TJ for his hard work, community involvement and academics.

It is not the team MVP. It goes to the one who best exemplifies the “character, courage, leadership and sacrifice demonstrated in the life and eternal spirit” of Albert Breisinger, whose high school football uniform number — 62 — is the only one retired at Thomas Jefferson.

“Alby is a great young man and I’m so happy for him to represent our team this year as the Breisinger Award winner,” TJ coach Bill Cherpak said. “Alby knows more than anyone what the meaning behind the award is and what an honor it is to be selected by his teammates. He is respected by the players and coaches and is a role model for our younger players.”

Scott Breisinger, Albert’s brother and a longtime Jaguar Nation member, said the fact the Breisinger Award falls into the “player’s choice” category makes it all that more important.

“Alby (son of Bobby and Cara) is my youngest brother’s son,” Scott said. ”When my dad was dying of cancer, Bobby told him he would name his first son Alby after our brother Alby.

“We, the Breisingers, are super proud for Alby. Being that the award is picked by the players says it all. Alby has always been a great person and is a tremendous example of what the award represents.”

TJ football definitely has a special meaning in all the Breisinger households.

Four brothers, Alby, Scott, Jimbo and Bobby, played football for the Jaguars, as did seven nephews, Dylan Breisinger, Dom Presto, Kurtis Meyer, Chad Mason, Ryan Breisinger, Logan Breisinger and Christian Breisinger. Brother-in-law Kevin Mason also was a TJ gridder.

“There is one second-cousin coming up in the district, J.J. Miller,” Scott said. “He is only 2 but you never know. He is a big boy …. just saying.”

Alby Breisinger was a two-year starter for the Jaguars. This past fall, he was joined on the offensive line by senior center Nick Trainor, senior guard Jake Krawczyk and junior tackles Nick Bryan and Owen Myer.

TJ won its second consecutive PIAA Class 4A title in 2020, defeating Jersey Shore, 21-14, on Nov. 28 at Hersheypark Stadium.

The Jaguars, who finished 10-1, also were WPIAL champions for the second year in a row, edging Aliquippa, 35-28, in overtime in the finals Nov. 14 at North Allegheny’s Newman Stadium.

“TJ football is a family with great tradition,” Breisinger said. “This year we just wanted to continue the tradition and win another WPIAL and PIAA championship. Aside from dealing with the uncertainty caused by corona, we played in so many close games yet we found a way to win.

“My goal ever since I played youth football was to win a state championship. The fact that I was able to do that twice in my career is surreal. Our team played with a ton of heart and that allowed us to be successful. The family-like bond that is created by TJ football is unlike anything else.”

Lois Breisinger is the 18-year-old Breisinger’s grandmother.

“After four sons and eight grandsons going through the program,” she said, “I couldn’t be happier for the last of them to win this award.”

Alby Breisinger, whose hobbies include fishing and hiking, joined the TJ wrestling program in 2020-21, competing in the 285-pound weight class.

“I went out for wrestling because I knew the team needed a heavyweight,” he said. “I had wrestled when I was younger and have always loved the sport. I was able to come back and wrestle my senior year and it was an incredible experience. The coaches are all outstanding people along with being great coaches.

“Coach (Michael) Ladick has brought an incredible culture to TJ’s wrestling program and I hope more people come out for the team like I did.”

When not playing or practicing football, Breisinger, who graduated June 8 and plans to major in civil engineering at Penn State, hung out with teammates and friends, players such as Rex Miller (WR/DB), Ethan Dunsey (OL/DL), Seth Lieberum (OL/DL), Jake Pugh (QB/DB) and Trainor.

“I want to thank my teammates and coaches for helping me grow as a young man,” Breisinger said, “as well as being key factors in making my time as a TJ Jaguar football player the best four years of my life.

“Although I never met my Uncle Alby, his selfless actions made him an incredible role model who I will always look up to and always strive to be at least half the man he was.”

Nick Werderber, a fullback/linebacker, and Gabe Dominick, a tight end/defensive end, were the award recipients the two previous years.

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