By Matt Popchock
This week’s UPMC Centers for Rehab Services Athlete of the Week is Derrick Fulmore, a junior quarterback for the West Mifflin football team.
He didn’t put up the most incredible stat line you’ll ever see from our Athletes of the Week, but Fulmore epitomized the word clutch in Week 9. Thanks to his leadership, Thomas Jefferson will remember these Titans (6-1, 8-1) as the ones who ended its 37-game conference winning streak.
Fulmore completed all five of his pass attempts for 77 yards. Each of them came on third or fourth down, three of them resulted in first downs, and two resulted in scores. In addition, he ran for 49 yards and another touchdown in West Mifflin’s 27-14 upset of the Jaguars (6-1, 6-3).
He broke the ice in this Big Eight Conference finale with a five-yard scamper to the end zone, and with West Mifflin leading 7-0 in the second quarter, extended the lead with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Everett Lesko. With the game tied 14-14, Fulmore put the Titans ahead to stay with a seven-yard TD toss to Darius Lighty.
Fulmore and his mates handed TJ its first conference loss since a West Mifflin victory over Thomas Jefferson in Week 9 of the 2005 season–a victory which, at the time, ended another long conference winning streak by the Jaguars (27 games).
He ended the regular season with 591 passing yards and five TD passes to go with 364 yards rushing. He’s averaging 6.5 yards per carry as the fourth-seeded Titans get ready to take on No. 13 seed Mars in Class AAA First Round playoff action.
Fulmore will later suit up for West Mifflin’s basketball team this winter, and he is a long-jumper on the track and field team as well.
Meanwhile, here are some of Mr. High School Sports’ other top performers from Week 9 of the WPIAL campaign:
Dakota Conwell, Upper St. Clair: On senior night he fittingly honored the legacy left behind by older brother Dane as the Panthers captured their first Great Southern Conference title since Dane led them to WPIAL and PIAA championships in 2006. Conwell ran for 276 yards, second-most among WPIAL players in Week 9, and three touchdowns in a 42-6 rout of arch-rival Mount Lebanon.
Gage Clark, Highlands: Conwell wasn’t the only dual-threat quarterback who came through with a big performance when his team really needed one. Clark connected on nine of 14 passes for 123 yards and two touchdowns, and also ran for a pair of scores from short distance in a 37-15 triumph over Greater Allegheny Conference rival Hampton to put the Golden Rams into the playoffs.
Brett Brumbaugh, South Fayette: One brother, Christian, is the all-time leading passer in WPIAL history. Another brother, Luke, is tearing up opposing defenses at Seton-LaSalle, which is widely expected to be a contender in this year’s Class AA playoffs. Due to an injury to John Lerda, younger brother Brett, a freshman, got to make his debut as a starter and wasted no time living up to his surname. He completed an amazing 13 of 14 passes for 228 yards and two touchdowns in a 44-16 win over Quaker Valley.
Justin Vickless, Brentwood: Lost in the runaway success of Clairton is the fact that the Spartans have enjoyed a solid season out of the Black Hills Conference, led by their star tailback. Down 14-13 to Carlynton at the half, they quickly erased the deficit and entered the 2011 postseason on a high note, as Vickless racked up 235 yards and five touchdowns on the ground in a 41-21 comeback against the Cougars. (Special thanks to blog reader Casey P. for the nomination!)
Be sure to tune into “The UPMC Centers for Rehab Services High School Football Show,” presented 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)