Food, friends and family are the greatest parts of Thanksgiving, but football is probably number four for most sports fans.
While a great slate of NFL games on Thanksgiving is the highlight of the football weekend, my favorite part has always been the WPIAL football championships played at Heinz Field annually the day after Thanksgiving, November 25 this year.
Whether it is watching trick plays, future NFL stars, crazy comebacks or the general unpredictability of a high school football game, the WPIAL championships are super entertaining each fall. The games are televised locally in Pittsburgh on Root Sports.
Here are 4 specific players for NFL fans to keep a close eye on this year when the WPIAL takes over Heinz Field:
Trenton Coles | WR | Clairton
WRs are pretty tricky to scout in high school. Kansas City Lots of prep offenses don’t throw the ball often or maybe their QB isn’t very good. Size and speed are two of the biggest tools colleges look for when judging wideouts. Just look at Kansas City WR and Aliquippa grad Jonathan Baldwin, who never put up huge numbers in high school. Coles reminds me a little bit of Baldwin. He’s huge (6′ 3″) and very, very fast (4.4 40-yard dash). I watched him win 2 gold medals in the PIAA championship track meet last year. He’s headed to Pitt next year.
Ian Park | OG | Upper St Clair
He’s already 6′ 4″ and 300 pounds as a high schooler. Park is a great natural run blocker and very strong. If he gets faster and a little stronger, his size and tenacity give him a shot to excel at Northwestern, where he has a verbal commitment.
Pat Kugler | OT | North Allegheny
Kugler is the son of the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line coach Sean Kugler. He’s brother is a TE at Purdue. He’s got great bloodlines and is 6′ 4″, 270 pounds as just a high school junior. Scout lists him as a 4-star recruit already. North Allegheny runs right behind him on the left side of the offensive line often and he had a key block on a 4th and goal that the Tigers converted last week to come back and defeat Gateway. Kugler has a ton of college offers from Pitt, Penn State, Miami, Florida State, Stanford, Michigan State and others. He’s the definition of a blue chipper.
Deaysean Rippy | LB/S | Sto-Rox
Not only does he have one of the coolest names ever, he’s also one of the top prep linebackers in the entire country. Pittsburgh has been a breeding ground of great linebackers in recent years and Rippy looks ready to continue the trend. He’s 6′ 2″ and has played both inside and outside linebacker. Scout says a lot of schools see him as a safety at the next level because he is only 200 pounds. He’s physical enough to blow players up at the line of scrimmage and fast enough to run with WRs down the field. Rippy hasn’t made a college choice yet either, but has offers from schools like Miami, Pitt, Maryland, Arizona State, USC, Oregon and Iowa.