Trib HSSN Football Player of the Week for 2021 Week 8

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Sunday, October 24, 2021 | 8:43 PM


During the Bill Cherpak era, there aren’t many teams that with an edge against Thomas Jefferson.

McKeesport is one of the few.

Having never played prior to 2020, McKeesport has back-to-back wins over the defending WPIAL and PIAA Class 4A champions.

On Friday, the Tigers defeated the Jaguars, 42-28, to remain undefeated in Big Eight Conference play.

Every time TJ scored, McKeesport seemed to have an answer.

“We constantly talk about having a business-like mindset,” McKeesport coach Matt Miller said. “If each player handles their respective jobs then good things will happen. So the other night, we would give up a score, we would go back to our jobs and get the work done. The players have bought in that we are a good team and that we have the ability to answer the bell when it rings.”

The first Tigers player to the door was junior running back Bobbie Boyd.

“He is very quick and explosive, and he ran very hard,” Miller said. “He broke a lot of tackles and carried some guys to get extra yards when we needed it.”

Boyd rushed for 227 yards on 17 carries as the McKeesport ground game was clicking on all cylinders.

“Bobby is really seeing the holes that are created by the O-line,” Miller said. “When there is not a hole, he makes people miss. He seems to be getting better every week.”

Even a steady drizzle with a wet football couldn’t slow down Boyd and the Tigers.

“We tried to stay as basic as possible,” Miller said. “We wanted to eliminate turnovers.”

In a back-and-forth first half, Boyd scored on a 41-yard touchdown run.

Then after Thomas Jefferson pulled to within a touchdown in the fourth quarter, Boyd supplied the dagger with a 48-yard scoring run for the final 14-point cushion for McKeesport.

“It was huge,” Miller said. “That was a true triple option play, blocked well by the line, read well by the quarterback and then the skill players blocked the perimeter and Bobby took it home.

“He is very quick; he has great balance and strength. But his football instincts are what really make him special. He sees plays develop and sets up defenders very well.”

The McKeesport win sets up a showdown for the conference championship on the final Friday of the regular season as the Tigers visit undefeated Belle Vernon.

“It should be a great matchup,” Miller said. “They are undefeated and at home. This should be a great atmosphere for high school football. We are excited about the opportunity to play for the section championship.”

WPIAL Week 8 honorable mentions

Mateo Cepullio – Upper St. Clair

Upper St. Clair senior Mateo Cepullio is a good baseball player. What he did for the football team on Friday was comparable to turning an unassisted triple play.

Cepullio did it all for the Panthers offense in a huge, come-from-behind victory over South Fayette that kept USC’s hopes of a share of the Class 5A Allegheny Six Conference championship alive.

Cepullio caught four passes for 47 yards and a touchdown, he rushed 5 times for 21 yards and he completed 12 of 14 passes for 155 yards and two touchdowns, including a 25-yard scoring pass to Aidan Bessleman with no time left at the end of regulation as USC defeated South Fayette, 31-28, in overtime.

Rodney Gallagher – Laurel Highlands

Laurel Highlands playoff hopes were on life support after they had lost three straight Class 4A Big Eight Conference games.

So the Mustangs called on the services of Doctor Quarterback, Rodney Gallagher. The junior signal caller made precision cuts to slice and dice the Trinity defense.

Gallagher rushed for 285 yards on 20 carries and scored five touchdowns on runs of 23, 1, 75, 60 and the winning score on a 3-yard run as the Mustangs galloped into the playoffs after a thrilling 39-34 win over the host Hillers.

Braylan Lovelace – Leechburg

If you are going to have a historic victory, why not have a memorable performance as the big, bold exclamation point?

Super junior Braylan Lovelace rushed for 183 yards and was in touchdown heaven as he scored seven times on runs of 4, 41, 1, 8, 12 9 and 2 yards in a 66-6 rout of Imani Christian.

The win clinched a playoff berth for the Blue Devils for the first time since 1988, ending a 33-year playoff drought. Brownsville, which will play an independent football schedule next year, now has the WPIAL’s longest playoff drought at 21 years.

2021 HSSN Players of the Week

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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