By Matt Popchock
This week’s UPMC Centers for Rehab Services Athlete of the Week is Damion Jones-Moore, a senior tailback for the Pittsburgh Central Catholic football team.
Over a stellar varsity career that has spanned four seasons, Jones-Moore has changed his uniform number (he now wears No. 2), the spelling of his first name (from Damian to Damion), and ultimately, program history…and he’s not done yet.
Last week Jones-Moore led all District 7 rushers with a whopping 302 yards on 31 carries, scoring three touchdowns to lead the Vikings past No. 7 seed Mount Lebanon 31-14 in the WPIAL Class AAAA Quarterfinals at North Allegheny’s Neuman Stadium.
He became the first and only person to find the end zone in the first half of that contest when his 37-yard TD run put Central Catholic ahead 7-0 in the first quarter.
Central took a 10-0 lead into the locker room, and when the Blue Devils cut the deficit to 17-8, Jones-Moore ripped off a 75-yard scoring jaunt to give his team a 24-8 advantage in the third quarter. After his counterpart, Luke Hagy, answered for Lebo in the fourth, Jones-Moore’s 18-yard score provided the final margin of victory for Central.
That touchdown, his 32nd overall this season, put him just one off the overall WPIAL lead entering the Semifinal round. Jones-Moore has run for 1,637 yards, averaging over ten per attempt, coming into this week, and earlier this season, the Toledo recruit topped the 4,000 career yard plateau.
He is one of eight running backs in Quad-A history to accomplish that feat (Hagy did it this season too). State champion and Kent State standout Eugene Jarvis did the same at Central Catholic, making it the first Quad-A football school to ever graduate two 4,000-career-yard rushers.
Meanwhile, as Central Catholic gears up for its third Semifinal appearance in five years, here are some of Mr. High School Sports’ other top performers from the Quarterfinal round of the WPIAL Football Playoffs:
Dakota Conwell, Upper St. Clair: A leg injury forced him to play his position in a more conventional manner toward the end of last week’s playoff game, and it has jeopardized his status for this Friday. But what impressed us the most about the future Pitt linebacker is the way he was able to expand his game under center. Yes, Conwell, in typical fashion, ran for two big scores, including the winning one, but he also threw for an important TD to Mike Wilcox and went 8-of-10 passing for 127 yards in a 21-14 decision over Erie McDowell at Seneca Valley.
Nico Lodovico, Franklin Regional: How does one steal the thunder of Rushel Shell, who became the Commonwealth’s all-time leading rusher last Friday? By launching an aerial assault the Hopewell defense found a little hot to handle. He threw for two critical touchdowns on 7-of-13 passing for 123 yards in a 24-21 triumph over the Vikings in Fox Chapel that put the Panthers into the WPIAL Semifinals for the first time since 2006.
Kevin Hart, Seton-LaSalle: Division I interest in this running back–though he’s being recruited as a slot receiver instead–is really picking up. Our question is, what took them so long? It’s fun to watch him take over a game, which is what he did against South Fayette last Friday. His 269 rush yards on 41 carries and two TD’s helped the Rebels knock off the WPIAL champs 21-13 at Peters Township.
De’Andre Moon, Rochester: After last year’s WPIAL Semifinal, which saw Avonworth push the Rams to their limit, you knew the ‘Lopes would give Gene Matsook’s kids a game in the Quarterfinal rematch. But Moon turned Avonworth blue with his 145 yards rushing on 30 carries, and his three touchdowns, including the game-winner in the fourth quarter, pushed Rochester to the Semifinals for the 11th time in 12 years with a 26-22 win at Ambridge.
Be sure to listen to “The UPMC Centers for Rehab Services High School Football Show” Saturday at 7:00 A.M., brought to you by ROOT Sports and hosted by John Phillips, on SportsRadio 93.7 The Fan when we name our next UPMC Centers for Rehab Services Athlete of the Week!
(Follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/mpopchock)