Trib HSSN Football Player of the Week 2022: Week 3

Sunday, September 18, 2022 | 7:02 PM

In an effort to instill confidence, trust and more leadership, second-year Hempfield coach Mike Brown decided against naming four team captains and instead asked 11 seniors to guide what they call the “leadership group.”

More cooks in the kitchen usually doesn’t end well, but more leaders has proven to be a winning recipe for the Spartans, who are 4-0 for the first time since 1971.

The hot start has been led on offense by quarterback Jake Phillips. In Week 3, the senior connected on 18 of 21 passes for 312 yards. He threw for four touchdowns, including two to senior wide receiver Daniel Katonka and one each to senior Anthony Vallano and junior Keiran Lippman.

Phillips also rushed for 50 yards and scored on touchdown runs of 3, 12 and 5 yards as the Spartans cruised past Shaler, 48-7, in a 5A nonconference game.

“Jake is a great overall young man on and off the field,” Brown said. “His success is well deserved due to his work ethic and determination. He is very well deserving of this weekly award after his performance last week.”

Through four games, the Spartans offense is averaging nearly 49 points per game. Easy math when you consider the 48 points scored Friday was the first time Hempfield did not score 49 points this season.

For the season, Phillips is 55 of 73 passing for 1,007 yards and 9 touchdowns.

Phillips said the key to his early success and the team’s hot start is simply trust. When on the field, he has faith in his offensive lineman and wide receivers to help him be a better quarterback.

“One of the biggest things that helped me have the success that I had was our linemen and our receivers making the plays that they made,” he said. “Shaler stacked the box like crazy, so it fell on our line’s pass protection, me throwing the ball and our receivers making the plays.”

While Spartans nation is excited for what has happened this fall, the atmosphere at Hempfield in Week 4 should be electric as the Spartans open up 5A Big East Conference play against defending district and state champion Penn-Trafford.

“I know he will keep improving and do big things the rest of the year,” Brown said. “We are lucky to have him as our quarterback.”

The 6-foot-2, 195-pound quarterback and safety also plays basketball and lacrosse for Hempfield. Phillips has not decided on a school for next year, but he wants to continue his football career at the next level.

WPIAL Week 3 Honorable Mentions

Gage Upton: West Allegheny

It seems like the “good ol’ days” have returned for West Allegheny. After a couple of coaching changes and some down years, the Indians are 4-0 thanks to a win Friday over New Castle, 52-14, in the 4A Parkway Conference opener.

Senior quarterback Gage Upton was on the money in Week 3, connecting on 8 of 10 passes for 197 yards andtouchdown tosses of 21, 67 and 45 yards as West A is off to its best start since 2017. Sophomore running backs Brock Cornell and Roman Police rushed for more than 100 yards in the win.

Troy Kozar: Quaker Valley

Troy is known as the setting for the Greek myth of the Trojan War. Things weren’t that dramatic in Week 3 at Quaker Valley, but it was a heroic effort by quarterback Troy Kozar that led his team to victory.

The senior completed 12 of 23 passes for 237 yards and touchdown passes of 5, 50 and 35 yards, the last two to senior wide receiver Jakub Pickett. Kozar also scored on runs of 50 and 2 yards as the Quakers picked up their first victory of the season in a 3A Western Conference opener over Seton LaSalle, 40-22.

Zion White and Zach Boyd: Elizabeth Forward

Bobbie Boyd of McKeesport has been gaining a lot of headlines this season for his outstanding play, and rightly so, but he isn’t the only Boyd to watch in the WPIAL, or even in the Mon Valley area.

Elizabeth Forward is 4-0 thanks to a huge performance by a pair of Warriors in Week 3. Senior quarterback Zion White connected on 7 of 13 passes for 227 yards and four touchdowns, with five of those receptions and all four touchdowns reeled in by senior wide receiver Zach Boyd as the Warriors rolled to a 3A nonconference win over Shady Side Academy, 42-21.

2022 HSSN Players of the Week

Week 2: Luke Cignetti, Shaler

Week 1: Cruce Brookins, Steel Valley

Week Zero: Conlan Greene, Penn-Trafford

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