Trib HSSN football player of the week for 2023 Week 12

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Sunday, November 19, 2023 | 7:00 PM


Peters Township sophomore quarterback Nolan DiLucia has had great success this fall in leading the Indians offense. He has proven to have a good arm and can do damage with his legs.

Early in the WPIAL Class 5A football championship game, the young QB also proved he has a short memory.

On his very first pass of the game, DiLucia was picked off by Pine-Richland junior cornerback Tanner Cunningham, leading to a field goal and an early lead for the defending champion Rams.

“So I personally think my receiver was held, but our receiver was running his route and got a little held up and maybe slipped, and I thought he was going to be there and it was a pick,” DiLucia said. “I knew I couldn’t harp upon that and let that define how I’m going to play in that game. So I knew I had to come back and make plays for my team.”

The youngster rebounded quite nicely with three second-quarter touchdowns to get the ball rolling for Peters Township, which went on to beat Pine-Richland, 43-17, for the program’s first WPIAL football championship.

“I saw our team captain, Jake Velgich, walking off the field, and he told me to just keep my head up,” DiLucia said.

The young quarterback listened, and early in the second quarter, connected with junior Mickey Vaccarello on a 13-yard scoring pass that put Peters Township up for good.

“Once we scored, I could feel the electricity going through the whole stadium,” DiLucia said. “I knew that one touchdown could not be all, so I knew we had to keep going with that momentum. We worked on that play we scored the first touchdown all week. I honestly was not sure it was going to work, but I have to believe my coaches.”

Before the first half ended, DiLucia threw two more touchdowns — 32 yards to senior Ethan Wertman and less than a minute later, a 16-yard scoring toss to senior Carter Shanafelt. The Indians led 23-3 at the half.

“The one to Mickey was an old play we would run with Corban Hondru,” Peters Township head coach T.J. Plack said. “They are a cover 0 team inside the 20, we thought showing the jet motion, and play action, would have their safety hesitate and allow Mickey to beat him in the corner of end zone. Ethan’s touchdown was consistent option route concept that we run a lot. Ethan saw he had a step on the corner, turned the jets on, and made an incredible catch. Carter’s TD was in the red zone, and he took advantage of the cover 0, and won his one on one match-up in the back of the end zone. In all three of those plays, Nolan understood the coverage and threw three perfect balls.”

DiLucia completed 14 of 25 passes for 184 yards and three touchdowns, plus he rushed for 96 yards and a score.

“I honestly don’t like when people give me all the credit because I know my linemen, running backs and receivers are working just as hard or even harder than me sometimes,” DiLucia said. “They all work so hard and they all want the best for each one of us. I think our offense working as a whole is what makes us so good.”

The Indians have been dominant all season, outscoring opponents in all 13 victories by an average score of 40-7.

“At camp at the beginning of the season, we all wanted to get to this WPIAL championship, but our coach reminded us, 1-0 every week, so we only looked ahead to every game and that just helped us keep winning and winning until it got us here,” DiLucia said.

Peters Township has a first district championship under its belt, and now is three wins from adding state gold to the fall collection.

On Friday, the undefeated Indians head north to Erie to battle District 10 champion Cathedral Prep (7-3) in a PIAA quarterfinal.

“(Sunday) we’ll start watching film and getting to know all the stuff,” DiLucia said. “My one coach said he looked at them a little bit, and they are a good team. We’re just going to have to play our football and go to work.”

Coach Plack added: “They (Cathedral Prep) have two dynamic running backs. Our defense will be challenged with stopping another tough, physical run game.”

WPIAL Week 12 Honorable Mentions

Logan Kushner, North Allegheny

Last week’s Trib HSSN Player of the Week dismissed all chatter about a possible HSSN POW jinx by enjoying a massive evening in the WPIAL Class 6A championship game Saturday. North Allegheny senior quarterback Logan Kushner hit on only 3 of 7 passes, but they went for 107 yards and two touchdowns, with all three connections to senior wide receiver Khiryn Boyd. Kushner also rushed for 240 yards and four touchdowns as the Tigers repeated as district champs with a 44-41 win over Central Catholic.

Donald Barksdale, Steel Valley

Here is all you need to know about the importance of junior running back Donald Barksdale to the Steel Valley offense. In the WPIAL Class 2A quarterfinals, he carried the ball on 41 of his team’s 52 offensive plays. On Friday in the semifinals, he accounted for 346 of the Ironmen’s 368 yards of offense by rushing for 266 yards and two touchdowns, throwing a 70-yard scoring pass and returning an interception 45 yards for a touchdown in the defending champ’s 34-21 win over Mohawk.

Matt Sieg, Fort Cherry

The super sophomore quarterback for Fort Cherry was very good for three quarters, but he turned it up a notch in the final quarter to keep his team perfect through the final four. Matt Sieg connected on 4 of 10 passes for 110 yards and a touchdown, plus he carried the ball 28 times for 166 yards and four touchdowns. Three of those scores from 12, 21 and 15 yards in the fourth quarter helped the Rangers score the final 19 points to knock off conference foe Bishop Canevin, 33-21.

2023 HSSN Players of the Week

Week 11 – Logan Kushner, North Allegheny

Week 10 – Braylon Thomas, Union

Week 9 – Anthony Boyd, McKeesport

Week 8 – Armand Hill, West Mifflin

Week 7 – Donald Barksdale, Steel Valley

Week 6 – Ethan Varesko, Beth-Center

Week 5 – Jay Wrona, Mohawk

Week 4 – Elijah Faulkner, Central Catholic

Week 3 – Jonah Williamson, Trinity

Week 2 – Jake Wolfe, Montour

Week 1 – Bruce Giles, Connellsville

Week Zero – Cameron Epps, South Allegheny

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