Clairton's Boyd named Daily News player of year
Clairton coach Tom Nola pulls no punches when it comes to assessing Tyler Boyd.
“He's the best player I ever coached,” Nola said. “The athletic ability and the vision he has in the game and the know-how to play the game and everything else, he does better than anyone else I ever had.”
That's high praise for the Bears senior considering that Nola has coached, among others, Zaire Washington, Desimon Green, Kevin Weatherspoon and Trenton Coles. Then again, considering what Boyd has done over the last four years, it would be hard to dispute his opinion of the 2012 Daily News Player of the Year.
“We knew how good he was as a ninth-grader, but he had to wait until 10th grade to show what he could do,” Nola said. “God forbid that he would have an injury, but (if not) we expect him to be in the pros.”
Boyd, who last week was named the Class A Player of the Year by the Pennsylvania Sportswriters, finished his career at Clairton as the WPIAL's all-time leader with 117 career touchdowns, seven more than the previous record holder, Rushel Shell of Hopewell. He ended up fifth in the WPIAL in rushing with 5,755 yards, including 4,984 yards in his final two seasons.
If all he did was run the ball, he would have been exceptional. But he also threw out of the wildcat, caught passes out of the backfield and was one of the best free safeties in the WPIAL. He was one-third of the Bears' “Killer T's” with fellow Division I recruits Terrish Webb (Kent State) and Titus Howard (Pitt), who accounted for 15 interceptions this season. Oh, and he was Clairton's punter.
Earlier this year, Boyd was invited to play in the prestigious U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 5 in San Antonio. Because he is resting a left shoulder injury, he will not play basketball for Clairton until after that game, where he could announce his college decision, he said earlier this fall.
He's received more than 25 scholarship offers to date.
“Playing there, it's going to be the most memorable moment of my life,” Boyd said. “I've been looking to this day.”
It's almost a shame that his high school football career will end at the Alamodome instead of Hersheypark Stadium, considering that was the field where he truly made a name for himself.
As a relatively unknown sophomore, Boyd helped turn a 24-0 second-quarter deficit into a 36-30 victory over Taylor-Riverside in the PIAA Class A championship game. He made a 30-yard run on a busted play to set up one touchdown, then caught a 37-yard touchdown from Green before the end of the half and hooked up with him for an 82-yard pass play on the third play of the second half to help the Bears storm back.
In 2011, with Southern Columbia cutting into an early Clairton lead, Boyd changed the game early in the fourth quarter when he went left all the way to the sideline, reversed his field and began moving forward as he came all the way back to the opposite sideline before cutting diagonally up the field for a 78-yard touchdown to give the Bears a 27-19 lead with 5:54 remaining. He then added a 66-yard touchdown run late in the game to salt away the team's third consecutive title.
Then he saved his best for last.
With the team entering the season riding a WPIAL-record and national-best 47-game winning streak, Clairton rode him through its first three games as 10 players sat out because of academic and disciplinary reasons. He carried the team with a career-best 2,584 yards and 51 overall touchdowns. With him leading the way, the Bears gained national attention as they brought together the community with a state-record 63-game winning streak. Clairton then became only the third team (Berwick from 1994-97 and Southern Columbia from 2002-06) to win at least four consecutive state titles.
He played his final game with the Bears in a 20-0 victory over Dunmore in the state finals at Hersheypark Stadium. He carried 20 times for 117 yards, scored his 117th career touchdown and intercepted a pass.
“We made our name here,” Boyd said. “That's all that matters.”
Perhaps the hardest thing will be for future Clairton players to live up to his legacy. Not only did he and his fellow seniors leave a 63-1 record and an active 63-game winning streak for those who follow, but Boyd rewrote the school and WPIAL record book with a flourish never before seen.
“He's such a special player, and it's obvious we're going to miss him,” Nola said. “There's not going to be another one like him at Clairton for a long time.”
Keith Barnes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-664-9161 Ext. 1977.