Trib HSSN May Madness: Phil Jurkovec, Pine-Richland vs. Rushel Shell, Hopewell

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Tuesday, May 12, 2020 | 9:00 AM


Over the course of the next month and a half, May Madness will determine who fans believe is the WPIAL Athlete of the Century.

HSSN has put together two 32-player brackets, one for the boys and one for the girls, of WPIAL alums. Outside of a few exceptions, the field is made up of former district players who excelled in more than one sport.

Each weekday, May Madness will have one matchup each on the boys and girls bracket with a little background info on each athlete found in a daily tale of the tape.

Starting at 9 a.m. Tuesday and running through 9 a.m. Wednesday, you can vote on the HSSN twitter page on the two athletes featured in this first-round matchup.

Check the HSSN website at noon Wednesday for the matchup’s final results.

Here is the contest for the boys. Round 1, Day 8:

Phil Jurkovec vs. Rushel Shell is a battle of between one of the best WPIAL running backs this century against one of the top quarterbacks in the district these past two decades.

Phil Jurkovec — Pine-Richland Class of 2017

(Football, basketball)

• 2018 Trib High School Sports Network male athlete of the year.

• 2017 Gatorade Pennsylvania football player of the year.

• Ranked as one of the top three football players from Pennsylvania in 2017 by Rivals.com, ESPN.com and 247sports.com.

• Jurkovec registered 11,144 total yards in his career, including 8,202 yards passing and 71 touchdown tosses in 2½ seasons at Pine-Richland after injuring his thumb as a sophomore.

• His 11,144 total yards are the second most in WPIAL football history.

• As a senior in 2017, Jurkovec threw for 3,969 yards, the third-highest single-season total in WPIAL history. He also threw 39 touchdown passes and only six interceptions.

• Also in 2017, Jurkovec rushed for 1,211 yards and 24 touchdowns to join Terrelle Pryor as the only players in WPIAL history to throw for over 3,000 yards and rush for over 1,000 yards in a season.

• In four years playing for the Pine-Richland football and basketball teams, Jurkovec won three silver medals for a pair of PIAA runners-up in football and basketball and a WPIAL hoops loss in the Class 6A finals to Penn Hills his senior year, plus two WPIAL football and two district basketball championships to go with a PIAA football crown.

• Jurkovec played quarterback at Notre Dame for two years before transferring this offseason to Boston College.

Rushel Shell — Hopewell Class of 2012

(Football, basketball)

• 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Terrific 25 all-star team and 2010 and 2011 football player of the year.

• Named 2011 second-team All-American by Sports Illustrated.

• Shell rushed for 9,078 yards in his career, shattering the WPIAL rushing record set by Mike Vernillo at 7,646 yards

• He also owns the PIAA career rushing record, breaking the mark set by Jeremiah Young of Steelton-Highspire by 51 yards.

• As a sophomore, Shell rushed for 2,740 yards, only the third running back in WPIAL history to break 2,000 yards rushing in a season. He did it two more times, gaining 2,102 yards as a junior and 2,302 yards as a senior.

• Set the national record with 39 consecutive 100-yard rushing games, breaking the record held by Billy Sims of 38 straight.

• Helped Hopewell reach the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs in all four years and led the Vikings into the 2009 WPIAL football championship game his sophomore season, a 36-28 loss to West Allegheny.

• He also played basketball at Hopewell before quitting to focus on football.

• Shell started his college football career at Pitt before transferring to West Virginia.

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