By Matt Popchock
This week’s UPMC Centers for Rehab Services Athlete of the Week is Dravon Henry, a sophomore tailback for the Aliquippa football team.
All the Quips do these days is win, and all he did was help them rally for their most important win of the 2011 campaign.
Henry ran for 195 yards on 33 carries and scored twice in the second half to propel Aliquippa (7-0, 7-0) to a 21-12 victory over previously undefeated Beaver (5-1, 6-1) at “The Pit” (a.k.a. Carl A. Aschman Stadium), which, in all probability, will give the Quips yet another outright Class AA Midwestern Conference title.
Down 10-6 at halftime, matters were made worse when Trent Shanahan sacked Mikal Hall in the end zone to put the home team in a 12-6 hole in the third quarter. But Henry helped reverse momentum with a 12-yard touchdown run up the middle that tied the game. In the fourth quarter, he gave the Quips necessary breathing room with a 25-yard scoring run, his 12th touchdown of the year.
In addition, Henry made one of three Aliquippa interceptions on the night, as its defense, one of the top units in the WPIAL, forced four turnovers in all.
It’s only his second year of varsity ball, but the Bobcats are probably sick and tired of him already. Last season Henry, as a backup running back, scored a decisive touchdown in overtime to defeat Beaver in a Week 7 contest at Pat Tarquinio Field.
Through seven games he has amassed 793 yards, which ranks ninth in Class AA, on an even 100 carries.
Meanwhile, here are some of Mr. High School Sports’ other top performers from Week 7 of the WPIAL/City League campaign:
Luke Hagy, Mount Lebanon: His march to the WPIAL history books might not be the most memorable because of some of the other high-profile talent in his graduating class, but considering this is just his third year as a starter, his is one of the more impressive ones. He broke the will of Bethel Park’s defense in Week 7, and broke the 4,000 career rushing yards barrier in the process, becoming the seventh WPIAL Class AAAA player to do so. Hagy, the district’s leading rusher (1,350 yards) ran for 254 yards on 38 carries, scoring both Blue Devil touchdowns in a 14-3 win over the Hawks.
Dillon Buechel, Montour: Nobody’s perfect, but give this future Division I star credit for coming pretty darn close in a pretty important game. Buechel connected on 13 of 15 passes for a Class AAA-best 249 yards, not to mention three touchdowns to Darren Massey, in a surprisingly easy but very necessary 42-9 blowout of visiting Blackhawk to keep the Spartans right in the middle of the Parkway Conference playoff chase. He has thrown for 17 TD’s against just four picks, and his 1,193 yards rank eighth in the WPIAL.
Nick Zupper, Waynesburg: Isiah Neely of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart did something truly special in Week 6 with a district-high 370 yards rushing in a big win for the Chargers, and wouldn’t you know it, it took all of one week for another top WPIAL tailback to one-up him. Zupper shredded Yough’s defense for 383 yards and four touchdowns on the ground in a 42-23 victory over the Cougars that keeps the Red Raiders’ playoff hopes on life support. He ranks third in the WPIAL with 1,277 rush yards entering Week 8.
Tyler Boyd, Clairton: It isn’t often the Bears are second-best at anything, but Boyd doesn’t mind settling for that, at least for now. His WPIAL-leading 19th and 20th touchdowns of the year came on early runs of 23 and eight yards, and he finished with a game-high 128 on the ground en route to Clairton’s sixth consecutive shutout, a 32-0 decision over Brentwood, which gives the team 38 straight victories and ties Greensburg (38 straight 1913-16) for the second-longest winning streak in District 7 football history.
Jaylen Coleman, University Prep: Last fall a hybrid program, Central Valley, became one of the feel-good stories of the WPIAL football season, and that also seems to be the case as this year’s City League campaign is unfolding. Coleman, one of the top-ranked “big backs” in the country, rumbled for 160 yards on 17 carries, including a 46-yard score, to push the Panthers past Allderdice, 12-0, last Friday at Cupples Stadium, and one step closer to a playoff berth in the first season of the Schenley-Peabody merger.
Be sure to tune into “The UPMC Centers for Rehab Services High School Football Show,” brought to you by ROOT Sports and hosted by John Phillips, Saturday at 7:00 A.M. on SportsRadio 93.7 The Fan, when we name our next Athlete of the Week!
(Follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/mpopchock)