Trib HSSN 2023 WPIAL football player of the year: Aliquippa’s Tiqwai Hayes

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Monday, December 18, 2023 | 6:56 PM


2023 WPIAL football player of the year

Tiqwai Hayes

School: Aliquippa

Position: Running back

Class: Junior

In 2021, Tiqwai Hates splashed on the area high school football scene by finishing fifth in the WPIAL in rushing with 1,746 yards on 245 carries and leading the team in scoring with 23 touchdowns in helping the Quips sweep Class 4A gold in the district and state.

Last year, Hayes finished third in the WPIAL in rushing with 1,981 yards on 252 carries and 33 touchdowns as Aliquippa claimed another district title and finished as state runner-up.

The young man known as Tikey continued his amazing career this season, finishing second in the WPIAL with 2,129 yards on 235 yards and 23 touchdowns. He also was a big part in a historic season as for the first time in its golden history, Aliquippa won a WPIAL and PIAA title with an undefeated record.

Quips’ opponents should be quaking in their cleats at the thought of what Hayes might do in his senior season in 2024.

“He’s just a special kid,” Aliquippa coach Mike Warfield said. “I always tell him, ‘Go be great,’ and he wants to be great. He does it every day. He comes to work every day. You never have to worry about him not giving a full effort, not just on the field, but also in the classroom.”

Earlier this season, the much-recruited Hayes made his college decision and committed to play at Penn State.

“Penn State felt like home,” Hayes said of his decision. “If I leave this house and go there, it feels like the same place. Penn State has an amazing school and that’s the one thing my mom was looking for. She also said to me, ‘You can go anywhere to play football, but it’s after football that counts.’ It’s definitely a school that can get me to the next level.”

Hayes seems to lift his game to the next level when the spotlight is the brightest.

He averaged 6.6 yards per carry in the WPIAL Class 4A championship game and ended up with a game-high 113 yards rushing as the Quips beat McKeesport, 35-21.

In the 2022 district finals, Hayes gained 112 yards and scored three touchdowns in a 34-7 victory over Central Valley.

In Hayes’ first WPIAL title game as a freshman in 2021, he rushed for 133 yards and two touchdowns in a 28-13 victory over Belle Vernon.

In this year’s PIAA championship game, Hayes rushed for 222 yards and scored three touchdowns on runs of 7, 34 and 61 yards as Aliquippa crushed Dallas, 60-14.

Two years earlier in the state title game, Hayes rushed for 139 yards and three touchdowns as Aliquippa defeated Bishop McDevitt, 34-27.

“He’s just a special kid who means so much to our program, not just for the kids on the team now, but for our youth program,” Warfield said. “Our young kids see what he’s doing and he’s doing it the right way. He is showing the cool thing to do is get good grades and play football. The kids see that and hopefully try to emulate him.”

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