This week’s First Commonwealth Athlete of the Week is Austin Miele, a senior running back for the Mars football team.

It’s rather fitting Miele’s team is called the Planets, because for at least one playoff round he was in his own little world.

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He set a WPIAL postseason record by rushing for 448 yards on a mere 29 carries and scored three touchdowns in the process to propel Mars to the Class AAA Quarterfinals with a 52-20 blowout of visiting Hollidaysburg in First Round action last Friday.  In addition, Miele, playing fullback out of the wing-T formation, broke the school’s single-game rushing record set by Brad Mueller in a 403-yard effort during the 2002 playoffs.

Perhaps the only remotely sour note on the night was that he fell just shy of the District 7 single-game rushing mark still held by Marcus Furman of Connellsville, who ran for 455 yards against Hempfield in the 2000 regular season finale.  Nevertheless, Miele is now just the ninth person in WPIAL history to run for 400 yards in a game of any kind.

All night long he punched holes in the Golden Tigers’ defense, and he finally punched one into the end zone in the second quarter, scoring from two yards out to cut Hollidaysburg’s early advantage to 8-6, the first of 24 unanswered points by the Planets, before Jacob Wright’s two-point run tied the game.  Miele’s 37-yard jaunt later in the period gave Mars a lead it would never relinquish.

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Hollidaysburg would not go away quietly, but after Chad Barton’s lone touchdown pass cut Mars’ lead to 24-14, Miele responded with a 24-yard scoring run.  This all happened in the third quarter, at which point Miele had already cracked the 300-yard barrier and was on pace for greater things.

With the game effectively over, Miele, when approached by head coach Scott Heinauer, chose to stay in it for a bit longer, and sure enough, the three-year starter seized the opportunity to rewrite western PA football history before taking a seat on the bench with time to spare in the fourth quarter.

Overall Miele now has 1,522 rushing yards on 217 carries–an average of more than seven yards per attempt–and 19 touchdowns.  This marked his third straight regular season of 1,000 yards.

He has received Division I scholarship offers, albeit to play defensive back, not running back, from multiple MAC schools.

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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 8:00-10:00 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!