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Top 11 WPIAL Football Players From 2013 Season
The Elite 11 all-star team this year is full of record breakers. The Elite 11 is made up of the top 11 players in the WPIAL, regardless of position. It is picked by the MSA Sports staff.
This year’s Elite 11 includes: the all-time leading passer in WPIAL history; another quarterback who is close to records; a running back who is the leading rusher in Aliquippa history; a quarterback who made history this season with his arm and legs; a receiver who set a school record for receiving yards.
Here is a look at the 2013 Elite 11:
2013 PLAYER OF THE YEAR
CHASE WINOVICH, THOMAS JEFFERSON
QB/RB-LB, 6-4, 220, SENIOR
Looking for the top player in the WPIAL? The “Chase” is on.
Winovich came into the season with a reputation as one of the best linebackers in the state. He certainly lived up to that billing. But he also made a mark on offense, where he moved from receiver last year to quarterback and almost rushed for 1,000 yards this year. Put it all together and you have the MSA Player of the Year.
Winovich was a force as a defensive player, recording 41 solo tackles. He was excellent at blitzes, totaling an impressive 13 quarterback sacks. He also recovered three fumbles and caused three fumbles.
Late in the year, Winovich really came through running the ball at quarterback, taking direct snaps from center in a shotgun. He had more than 200 yards rushing in the regular-season finale against West Mifflin that clinched the Big Nine Conference title. He finished the season with 981 yards rushing and also scored 16 touchdowns. He didn’t throw that much, completing 15 of 32 for 231 yards.
“Chase is one of the top linebackers I've ever had," said Thomas Jefferson coach Bill Cherpak. "He does so many things. He's everything and more. And what he wants more than anything is to win. Nothing else matters."
Next season, Winovich will be playing linebacker in the Big House. He made a verbal commitment to the University of Michigan in the spring. Pitt and Ohio State were his other two top choices.
T.J. HOLL, SENECA VALLEY
QB-S, 6-1, 205 JUNIOR
Seneca Valley made it to the WPIAL Class AAAA quarterfinals and Holl fueled the run. Holl played for his father, Don, who was Seneca Valley’s coach.
Running Seneca Valley’s no-huddle, spread offense, Holl was one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in Western Pa., accounting for more than 2,500 yards offense. He completed 117 of 188 for 1,804 yards and he also rushed for 723 yards for a WPIAL Class AAAA quarterfinalist.
Holl is also a good defensive back.
NIKO THORPE, PITTSBURGH CENTRAL CATHOLIC
LB, 5-10, 225, SENIOR
Central Catholic’s defense turned into one of the best in the WPIAL in the past 10 seasons, and Thorpe was the heart and soul of that defense.
He transferred from Shaler to Central Catholic after his sophomore year and figured he would be a running back. His father, Chris, played running back at Fox Chapel and then at Penn State. But Niko found his niche at linebacker. A hard hitter who plays with plenty of energy, Thorpe had 13 tackles in the WPIAL championship game and helped Central Catholic reach the PIAA title game.
Thorpe has not made a college decision, but more and more Division I-AA colleges have become interested in the past month.
MONTAE NICHOLSON, GATEWAY
WR-DB, 6-3, 205, SENIOR
Nicholson was one of the most versatile players in the WPIAL and he is the only WPIAL player selected to play in the prestigious U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio in January.
Nicholson caught 41 passes for 819 yards and set a school with when he had 252 receiving yards in one game. On defense, he had 72 tackles and intercepted three passes.
Some colleges like Nicholson as a receiver and others at defensive back. He has yet to make a decision, but has made visits to Pitt, Florida State, Michigan State, Oregon and Virginia Tech.
TORY DELMONICO, WEST ALLEGHENY
RB-LB, 6-2, 203, SENIOR
A standout on both sides of the ball, Delmonico made first-team all-conference on offense and defense and helped West Allegheny win a second consecutive WPIAL Class AAA title.
He was the team’s second-leading rusher with 801 yards on 138 carries. He also led the team in receptions with 23 for 356 yards. And he was a force at linebacker.
Delmonico has not made a college decision yet, but Division I-AA schools are showing intertest.
JIMMY WHEELER, WEST MIFFLIN
RB, 5-9, 170, SENIOR
They call him “Wheels” and “Wheels” was turning fast this season.
Wheeler rushed for more than 4,000 yards in only two seasons. This year, he had eight 200-yard games and finished with 2,616 yards on 298 attempts. He finished his career as the school’s all-time leading rusher with 4,929 yards on 592 attempts.
Wheeler has not made a college decision yet.
NICO LAW, RINGGOLD
QB, 6-1, 185, JUNIOR
Many teams might have fought the Law, but the Law usually won.
Law made history this season. He is believed to be the first player in WPIAL history to pass and rush for 1,000 yards in the regular season. Others have done it, but not in the regular season. He finished 93 of 180 for 1,494 yards and 14 touchdowns. He also rushed for 1,210 yards and scored 14 touchdowns in helping Ringgold reach the WPIAL playoffs.
Some Division I colleges, including Pitt, are showing interest in Law.
MALIK HOOKER, NEW CASTLE
WR-DB, 6-3, 190, SENIOR
One of the best two-sport athletes in the state. Hooker is an excellent basketball player, a starter on two consecutive WPIAL championship teams. But his future is in football. In the spring, he accepted a scholarship to play next season at Ohio State. The Buckeyes recruited him as a defensive back. Hooker had a number of other Division I scholarship offers. What is interesting is that he never played high scool football until his junior year.
Hooker was a standout at receiver and defensive back and also returning kicks for New Castle. He helped the Red Hurricanes reach the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs.
BRETT BRUMBAUGH, SOUTH FAYETTE
QB, 6-4, 195, JUNIOR
Brumbaugh very easily could end his career as the WPIAL’s all-time leading passer. Only a junior, Brumbaugh enters this weekend’s Class AA state championship game with 7,047 yards passing (444 of 675 and 82 touchdown passes). The WPIAL record was set this by Sto-Rox’s Lenny Williams with 8,508 yards.
This season, Brumbaugh has completed 242 of 354 for 3,618 yards and 38 touchdowns. He is one of only four quarterbacks in WPIAL history to pass for 3,000 yards in a season. Brumbaugh has a chance to break the WPIAL single-season record of 3,726, held by his brother, Christian.
Temple and Akron have offered scholarships and Duke is showing interest.
DRAVON HENRY, ALIQUIPPA
RB-DB, 6-2, 187, SENIOR
He should go down as one of the greatest two-way players in Aliquippa history.
Henry finished his career as the eighth-leading rusher in WPIAL history and No. 1 in Aliquippa with 5,454 yards on 588 carries. This season, he scored touchdowns five different ways and rushed for 1,242 yards on 99 carries (12.5 average) and helped Aliquippa reach the WPIAL Class AA title game for the fourth consecutive year. Henry also has been a standout at defensive back.
Henry was ranked the No. 14 safety in the country by Rivals.com and he had a number of scholarship offers to play defense. He made his college decision this week, committing to West Virginia. Pitt was his other top school.
LENNY WILLIAMS, STO-ROX
QB-DB, 5-11, 197, SENIOR
Williams finished his career as the most prolific passer in WPIAL history. He set a record for career passing yards with 8,508, completing 479 of 833. He also rushed for 3,051 yards and finished with a WPIAL record of 11,559 yards.
This year, he helped Sto-Rox reach the WPIAL Class A championship game for the third consecutive season. He finished 136 of 209 for 2,709 yards and 34 touchdowns. He also rushed for 551 yards.
Williams has made a verbal commitment to Temple. He was recruited as a quarterback.