Trib HSSN football player of the week for 2021 Week 12

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Sunday, November 21, 2021 | 7:50 PM


Aliquippa continued to build on its astonishing WPIAL football record Friday when it beat McKeesport in double overtime to reach the district championship game for a 14th consecutive year.

This time, the Quips were led in part by a fabulous freshman.

Tiqwai Hayes carried the ball 44 times and gained 218 yards as the Quips knocked off the Tigers, 27-21, in a Class 4A semifinal game.

“He’s in great shape, which allows him to continuously play at a high level throughout the game,” Aliquippa coach Mike Warfield said. “His mentality (is one of his strengths). He wants to be great.”

The night didn’t start out great for Hayes and the Quips. He lost an early fumble as McKeesport raced out to a 14-0 lead in the second quarter.

But Aliquippa and Hayes righted the ship and climbed back in before halftime. Hayes tied the score with the first of two touchdowns runs, a 25-yard score.

“Seeing a young kid maintaining his focus after a lost fumble early was impressive,” Warfield said. “It was just a point in the game that gave us a little momentum, I was more impressed late in the game on the goal line when he got really smacked and didn’t blink.”

Despite the goal-line shot, Hayes finished off a 2-yard run that tied the score 21-21 and sent the semifinal into overtime.

After both teams could not produce points in the first overtime, McKeesport fumbled on its possession and Quips sophomore quarterback Quentin Goode hit sophomore Jayce Williams on a 9-yard touchdown pass for the winning points.

So carrying the ball 44 times must show that the coaches believe in this freshman, even as the semifinal spotlight is shining brighter.

“It’s a combination of having confidence in him, (running backs) John Tracy, Quaylon Darby and the offensive line,” Warfield said.

So did Warfield realize Hayes would be this good this early? He is up to 1,594 yards rushing on 207 carries with 18 touchdowns this season.

“I had no expectations other than being committed to getting better every day,” Warfield said. “We play the best, period, no matter what class the kid is in.”

Hayes and his young Aliquippa teammates return to Heinz Field on Saturday when they battle Class 4A top seed and undefeated Belle Vernon.

“They are solid,” Warfield said, “both the coaching staff and players.”

WPIAL Week 12 honorable mentions:

Alex Tecza – Mt. Lebanon

Former Green Bay coach Vince Lombardi, in talking about the famous Packers sweep play of the 1960s, said “we want to create a seal here, and a seal here and run this play in the alley.”

It wasn’t always a sweep, but the Mt. Lebanon offensive line created plenty of alleys for senior running back Alex Tecza to burst through on the way to a victory at Norwin.

Tecza rushed for 193 yards on 16 carries and scored touchdowns on runs of 2, 59 and 23 yards as the Blue Devils cruised past two-time defending champion Central Catholic to win the WPIAL 6A championship 47-7. It is the school’s first football crown in 21 years.

Cade Yacamelli – Penn-Trafford

Wisconsin recruit Cade Yacamelli enjoyed a strong regular season in helping Penn-Trafford win the 5A Big East Conference.

The senior is taking it up several notches in the postseason.

After rushing for 140 yards and two touchdowns in a quarterfinal win over Fox Chapel, Yacamelli had 208 yards rushing on 19 carries with touchdowns on runs of 33, 1 and 17 yards as the Warriors earned a trip to Heinz Field by ousting defending champion Pine-Richland, 24-6.

Kole Olszewski – Bishop Canevin

What a final four for the freshman.

Down 7-0 to Cornell and with his offense sputtering in the first half, Bishop Canevin coach Richard Johnson turned to freshman Kole Olszewski for a spark.

Olszewski connected on 9 of 13 passes for 144 yards and touchdowns of 17 and 60 yards, both to junior Lesae Lacks, as the Crusaders reached the finals for the first time in 31 years with a 24-7 victory over the Raiders.

2021 HSSN Players of the Week:

Week 11 – Josh Jenkins, Sto-Rox

Week 10 – Chris Hood, New Castle

Week 9 – Cadin Olsen, Armstrong

Week 8 – Bobby Boyd, McKeesport

Week 7 – Brad Birch, Gateway

Week 6 – Alex Tecza, Mt. Lebanon

Week 5 – Nijhay Burt, Steel Valley

Week 4 – Devin Whitlock, Belle Vernon

Week 3 – Trenton Carter, Carmichaels

Week 2 – Abraham Ibrahim, Chartiers Valley

Week 1 – Graham Hancox, Seneca Valley

Week Zero – Carson Davidson, Blackhawk

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