Rushel ShellThis week’s First Commonwealth Athlete of the Week is Rushel Shell, a junior tailback for the Hopewell football team.

Although he and the rest of the Vikings are still a long way from the coveted WPIAL championship that barely fell out of reach last season, Shell can add another title to his high school resume after his legendary performance in Week 6.

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In a hard-fought 28-26 triumph at New Castle last Friday, Shell sliced and diced the Red Hurricane’s defense for 392 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 32 carries to surpass Chico Williams of Aliquippa as the number one rusher in Beaver County history.  Shell is now fifth on the WPIAL’s all-time list with 5,659 yards and still has a minimum of 12 games remaining as a high school player to catch District 7 career leader Mike Vernillo of Fort Cherry (7,646 yards), barring health or other issues.

With Hopewell clinging to a one-point lead early on Shell extended that advantage in the second quarter with the first of his three scores, a 78-yard jaunt that made it 13-6 Vikings prior to Nate Bowden’s extra point.

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New Castle pulled ahead 20-14 in the fourth quarter, but the Vikings answered right back with Shell capping off another scoring drive with a ten-yard run that tied the game, and another P.A.T. by Bowden put Hopewell ahead to stay.  Shell then silenced the Taggart Stadium crowd with the kind of play he has so often made look easy: a 92-yard run to paydirt that proved to be the difference-maker, as a potential game-tying two-point conversion pass by John Matarazzo later fell incomplete.

The win was the first in Parkway Conference play for fifth-place Hopewell and kept its dimming playoff hopes alive with games remaining against Central Valley, Ambridge, and West Allegheny.

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Tune into the next edition of The Post-Gazette High School Football Show Presented by First Commonwealth Bank this Saturday morning at a special time of 7:00-9:00 on SportsRadio 93.7 The Fan and, as the Post-Gazette’s Mike White and MSA’s Don Rebel name our next First Commonwealth Athlete of the Week!