Trib HSSN 2023 Head of the Class: Football player of the year in all 6 classes

Sunday, December 17, 2023 | 10:07 AM

Back in the day, when a student did well in the classroom, they were moved to the front of the class.

While there is no more dangling carrot for students like getting to leave your final class to pound the chalk out of the erasers, the tradition continues as Trib HSSN is once again moving that prized student to the head of the class.

There were plenty of players who stood out for their performances on the gridiron around the WPIAL and City League in 2023, and some of those players will be recognized with the soon-to-be released Trib Terrific 25, however these seven players were a cut above the rest and deserve a classroom salute.

The following have reached the HSSN Head of the Class for this past season and are the Trib players of the year in each of the six classifications and City League. A gold star on the forehead to the following:

Class 6A

Player of the Year: Logan Kushner, North Allegheny

In the three years that Logan Kushner was the starting quarterback at North Allegheny, all the Tigers did was earn back-to-back WPIAL Class 6A championships and finish this season as the PIAA runner-up. Whenever NA needed a big play, Kushner delivered with both his arm and his legs. He was responsible for more than 3,000 yards of offense and 44 touchdowns in helping the Tigers finish 11-2 as a junior and 12-2 as a senior. Kushner connected on 82 of 154 passes for 1,636 yards and 23 touchdown tosses, led the team in rushing with 1,373 yards on 147 carries for an average of 9.3 yards per tote, plus he was the leader of the team in scoring with 21 touchdowns and two points after touchdowns.

Class 5A

Player of the Year: Nolan DiLucia, Peters Township

In 2022, junior Chris Cibrone threw for nearly 2,000 yards and 19 touchdowns as Peters Township finished 6-4 overall and in third place in the 5A Allegheny Six Conference. So most folks thought Ciborne would be back as the starting quarterback as a senior for the Indians in 2023. However, Peters coach T.J. Plack took a gamble on sophomore quarterback Nolan DiLucia, and it paid off handsomely. The rookie QB led the WPIAL in passing and helped guide the Indians to their best season ever. DiLucia connected on 217 of 352 passes for 3,036 yards and 30 touchdowns. He also was third on the team in rushing with 392 yards and eight touchdowns as Peters Township captured its first WPIAL football championship, won its first two PIAA playoff games and finished as state runner-up.

Class 4A

Player of the Year: Tiqwai Hayes, Aliquippa

Despite heavy losses to key elements of the offensive line before the season, Aliquippa was able to gouge opponents game after game with a lethal rushing attack. Even though senior running mates John Tracy and Cam Lindsey combined to rush for more than 1,100 yards, it was junior Tiqwai “Tikey” Hayes who was the Quips’ bell-cow in the run game. The Penn State recruit rushed for 2,129 yards on 235 carries for an average of 9.1 yards per carry. He also led the team with 23 touchdowns. Like most great players, Hayes was at his best in the biggest games. In the WPIAL 4A finals against McKeesport, he rushed for game-high 113 yards as the Quips won a third straight district crown. In the PIAA title game against Dallas, he gained 222 yards and scored three touchdowns in the Quips’ second state championship in three years.

Class 3A

Player of the Year: Quinton Martin, Belle Vernon

Quinton Martin entered every high school football game since his fabulous freshman season with a target on his back. He was the focal point of every opponent’s defensive game plan against Belle Vernon, and it really didn’t matter because for most Friday nights in his marvelous career, Martin stood tall in the end. For the second straight year, the Penn State recruit led Belle Vernon is rushing, receiving and scoring. Martin rushed for 1,202 yards on 117 carries for a gaudy average of 10.3 yards per carry, plus he had 54 catches for 753 yards and scored 28 touchdowns. In the PIAA Class 3A title game, Martin rushed for a game-high 133 yards and scored the back-breaking touchdown on a 92-yard jaunt in the third quarter, helping the Leopards sweep district and state gold for a second straight season.

Class 2A

Player of the Year: Donald Barksdale, Steel Valley

The season began with defending WPIAL 2A champion Steel Valley expected to contend behind the Barksdale brothers. Donald was a junior running back and Da’ron was a sophomore wide receiver who played big roles in the 2022 district title run for the Ironmen. However, when Da’ron was lost for the season to injury in Week 2, Donald stepped up and carried the load. He finished the season with 2,061 rushing yards on 267 carries (7.7 yards per carry avg) and 37 touchdowns. He finished fourth in the WPIAL in rushing and second in scoring. The legacy continues as for a third straight year, a Steel Valley player is sitting front and center as the HSSN 2A Player of the year. Barksdale joins Nijhay Burt in 2021 and Cruce Brookins in 2022 as the top 2A players in the district for the Ironmen.

Class A

Player of the Year: Matt Sieg, Fort Cherry

In a memorable season for Fort Cherry, senior running back Ethan Faletto ran for 1,215 yards. However, that impressive total was nearly doubled by the team’s top offensive weapon. Sophomore quarterback Matt Sieg followed up an impressive freshman campaign with a spectacular sophomore season in which he helped the Rangers win their first WPIAL crown, their first state playoff game and finished 15-1 as PIAA runners-up. Sieg completed 86 of 158 passes for 1,671 yards and 20 touchdowns, plus he led the team and the WPIAL in rushing with 2,387 yards on 257 carries for an average of 9.3 yards per attempt. Plus, he led the team and district in scoring with 43 touchdowns and six points after touchdown.

City League

Player of the Year: Khalil Green, Westinghouse

Playing behind Keyshawn Morsillo at Westinghouse last season, quarterback Khalil Green got a small taste of success. He must have enjoyed it because he produced a breakout campaign for the Bulldogs this fall, his first as a starting quarterback. The junior put together a fantastic season in engineering another City League championship for the ‘House before making a return trip to the PIAA Class 2A title game. He threw for more than 1,500 yards, and in four PIAA postseason games threw for 677 yards, rushed for 389 yards and scored 11 touchdowns. In the Bulldogs’ PIAA 2A championship game, he totaled 316 yards from scrimmage with two touchdown passes and one scoring run in a one-point loss to Southern Columbia.

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