Trib HSSN high school football player of the week for 2023 Week 5

Monday, October 2, 2023 | 6:26 PM

There are a lot of “dual” threat football players in the WPIAL, but none are as unique as Mohawk quarterback Jay Wrona.

Yes, Wrona can hurt you with his passing and running, but he can also do damage with his woods and irons too.

The senior is participating and shining in two fall sports: football and golf.

On the links, he helped Mohawk qualify for the upcoming Class 2A boys team golf playoffs. He also qualified for the WPIAL 2A individual championships, where he finished tied for 30th overall.

On the gridiron, he helped the Warriors win five of their first six games and into a tie for first place with rival Neshannock in the Class 2A Midwestern Athletic Conference.

“He’s a natural athlete and fierce competitor,” Mohawk football coach Tim McCutcheon said. “He’s an intelligent athlete that is very smooth. Jay thrives in chaos.”

Wrona has wreaked chaos on opposing defenses this season. He has completed 81 of his 138 passing attempts for 1,434 yards and 24 touchdowns.

“Jay has played extremely well,” McCutcheon said. “He has played consistently well all year.”

In a key MAC game this past Friday, Wrona was 21 of 38 passing for 289 yards and four touchdown tosses of 15 and 7 yards to Bobby Fadden, 16 yards to Blake Logan and 7 yards to Dante Retort.

The scoring pass to Logan capped off a wild finish to the first half in which Wrona ran for a first down but came up short. As the final seconds of the half were ticking away, Mohawk lined up for one more play, but the snap rolled past the Warriors quarterback and he had to go back to pick it up at the Ellwood City 28-yard line. Under heavy pressure, he ran right and heaved the ball toward the end zone from the 35-yard line, and Logan made an adjustment and caught it in the end zone for an amazing touchdown that put Mohawk up by two scores.

“We have been waiting to use that play all year,” McCutcheon said with a laugh. “No, truthfully we were looking to spike the ball to give our kicker, Josh Wilkins, a field goal attempt before the half. The noise made it tough for Jay and our center to communicate. We should have been under center.

“After that, it was Jay doing what Jay does: not panicking while the ball is bouncing on the turf and doing anything in his power to make a play while Blake Logan makes a great play by breaking to the end zone and making a big catch. At that time, it was a huge play. Ellwood got some momentum with a turnover that resulted in a touchdown. We went tempo hoping for at least a field goal.”

Mohawk outscored Ellwood City in the second half 17-8 to remain in first place in the conference while dropping the Wolverines to 1-2 in the MAC, 3-3 overall.

Before the Warriors can look ahead to a possible Week 9 showdown with Neshannock, they have two of their next three games at home against Beaver Falls (2-1) this Friday and Western Beaver (2-1) in Week 8.

“They look like Beaver Falls, big up front and speed everywhere,” McCutcheon said of this week’s matchup with the Tigers. “We look forward to the challenge.”

Week 5 honorable mention

Payton Wehner – Central Catholic

Central Catholic is proving no matter how you want to defend them, they have the weapons to score a lot and win big. In Week 4, the ground attack was featured in the 6A showdown against North Allegheny and Elijah Faulkner ran his way to HSSN Player of the Week honors. Last week, it was back to the air as senior quarterback Payton Wehner completed 15 of 19 passes for 365 yards and five touchdowns as the Vikings beat Canon-McMillan, 49-6.

Brad Birch – Gateway

Senior quarterback Brad Birch has proven to be the gateway to success for 5A Big East Conference leaders. When the Gators lost their first three games, Birch was out with injury in two of them. Since returning, he has led the black and gold to three conference wins. In Week 5, Birch connected on 16 of his 27 passes for 247 yards and five touchdown tosses, plus he rushed for 121 yards and a score as Gateway rolled past Hempfield, 63-21.

Matt Sieg, Fort Cherry

One of the most dominating performances of Week 5 was saved for the final contest of the weekend. In a Saturday night special at Dormont Stadium, sophomore quarterback Matt Sieg could not be stopped in a Black Hills Conference showdown against top-ranked Bishop Canevin. Sieg was 4 of 7 passing for 160 yards and two touchdowns, plus he carried the ball 24 times for 277 yards and four scores as the undefeated Rangers stunned the Crusaders, 48-41.

2023 Trib HSSN Players of the Week

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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