Four on all-state football second team
12/22/2010 3:30 AM
Kyle McWreath was given a challenge by Trinity football coach Ed Dalton before the season kicked off.
"I didn't think his junior year was as good as his sophomore year, but part of that was he was hurt his junior year," Dalton said. "This year, he was just unbelievable from the first snap."
McWreath, a menacing presence at fullback and middle linebacker the past three years at Trinity, put together his finest season during his senior year, and his play led the Hillers to the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs.
McWreath rushed for 426 yards and finished with more than 100 tackles. Combine that with an ability to make plays on special teams, and it's easy to understand why McWreath landed a spot as second-team linebacker on the Pennsylvania Sports Writers Class AAA All-State Team.
"His South Park game, it was like a highlight reel," Dalton said.
McWreath, who is drawing interest at the Division I-AA level, delivered a series of bone-jarring blocks against South Park in addition to rushing for a touchdown, catching a touchdown pass and blocking a punt and recovering it in the end zone for a touchdown.
Niko McPherson, a senior at Ringgold, put together one of those types of games midway through the season against Laurel Highlands, and that's just one reason why he joined McWreath on the Class AAA second-team defense as a defensive back.
Two other local talents, California's Dakota Conway and Monessen's Nick Bolias, were selected to the Class A second team.
McPherson intercepted three passes in the first half against Laurel Highlands, returned one for a touchdown, caught a touchdown pass and recovered a fumble.
"The biggest thing about Niko is he's an unselfish, coachable kid," Ringgold coach Matt Humbert said. "He just does what you ask of him, and he's fundamentally sound at it."
McPherson, who has drawn Division III interest, led the WPIAL with seven interceptions during the regular season, and his play helped Ringgold enter postseason play for the first time with a 9-0 record.
"It's nice when you don't have to worry about a player of a side of the field," Humbert said. "Even if he made a mistake, he'd come right back and make a play."
In the Class A Tri-County South Conference, Conway and Bolias were two of the biggest playmakers.
Bolias, a first-team all-state defensive back as a junior, failed to get the same opportunities as a senior because few teams dared to challenge him.
In limited pass defense chances, Bolias intercepted one pass and made significant impacts in other areas for the Tri-County South champions. He caught 27 passes for 629 yards, and was a key kick returner for the Greyhounds, who finished 9-2.
With its pass-happy offense, California forced defenses to employ extra defensive backs, but that didn't stop senior receiver Dakota Conway from a record-setting season.
Conway, listed at 5-10, caught 51 passes for 823 yards and 15 touchdowns for the Trojans, good enough for second-team wide receiver honors.
"He's not the tallest guy but he knows how to get open and go get the football," California coach Brady Barbero said. "He found ways to get open against some of the best cover guys in our area."
Conway's 15 touchdown receptions, all coming from his younger brother T.D. Conway, is a regular-season record in Washington County.
"He worked harder than anybody," Barbero said. "I can't say enough about how those two responded all year." Copyright Observer Publishing Co.