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HSFB preview by position: Touches tough to come by for elite receivers

| Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014, 8:30 p.m.
Ronald Vezzani Jr. | For Trib Total Media
Clairton's Aaron Mathews works on pass-catching skills during practice Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014, at Clairton.
Tre Tipton photographed at Valley High School on Wednesday, July 17, 2014.
Steph Chambers | TRIB TOTAL MEDIA
Penn-Trafford football player Tim Vecchio (3) junior on Thursday, July 17, 2014.
Ronald Vezzani Jr. | For Trib Total Media
Clairton's Aaron Mathews works on pass catching skills during practice on Wednesday, August 6, 2014, at Clairton.
Sidney Davis | Trib Total Media
Allderdice's Tim Jackson on Wednesday August 13, 2014.
Randy Jarosz | For Trib Total Media
Seton-La Salle's Danzel McKinley-Lewis
Christopher Horner | Trib Total Media
Aliquippa receiver Patrick Anderson

one of the best receivers in the WPIAL had just 11 catches last season. Clairton's Aaron Mathews, a talented 6-foot-5 junior, was in the backfield throwing passes instead.

As a part-time quarterback, Mathews was a 1,000-yard rusher last season who also completed 40 of 59 passes for 503 yards and threw six touchdowns.

It was a smart way for Clairton to involve one of its best athletes in the offense. But now that Mathews is a full-time wideout, keeping him involved will be Clairton's challenge.

It's a familiar dilemma for every team that has a star receiver. A running back can be guaranteed carries. A quarterback can take every offensive snap. But receivers require some creativity.

Compared to 42 rushers with 1,000 yards, the WPIAL and City League had only five 1,000-yard receivers last season; two were South Fayette teammates who graduated.

Only nine receivers reached 50 catches, including Pine-Richland senior D'ondre Gastion (64-766) and Indiana senior Riley Stapleton (50-702), who both return.

Chris Harlan is staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.

1. Aaron Mathews

Clairton, jr., 6-5, 180

Mathews has Pitt among his early scholarship offers. He rushed for 1,034 yards last year as a part-time quarterback, but his size, speed and skills should serve him well as a full-time receiver. Five of his 11 catches last year resulted in touchdowns.

2. Tre Tipton

Apollo-Ridge, sr., 6-2, 165

Tipton verbally committed to Pitt in June. He had two touchdown catches of 70 yards or more last season, with an 82-yarder in the WPIAL Class A playoffs. He finished with 44 catches for 697 yards and 14 touchdowns. A two-way player, he also made five interceptions.

3. Danzel McKinley-Lewis

Seton-La Salle, sr., 6-0, 180

McKinley-Lewis had 791 yards and eight touchdowns on 40 catches last season as a junior. He also returned two fumbles for scores. His junior season included a three-touchdown game against McGuffey and an 80-yard touchdown catch against South Park. He verbally committed in June to Toledo, where he'll play slot receiver.

4. Patrick Anderson

Aliquippa, sr., 6-4, 185

Anderson's best performance came at Heinz Field, where he made four catches for 122 yards and a touchdown in the WPIAL Class AA championship. He finished his junior season with 20 catches for 361 yards and eight touchdowns. West Virginia ranks among his college options.

5. Tim Vecchio

Penn-Trafford, jr., 5-9, 155

As a sophomore, Vecchio had 682 yards and nine touchdowns on 40 catches. He added three touchdowns on returns, including a 96-yard kickoff against Central Catholic. He scored in nine of his team's 12 games. His best performance was a seven-catch, 122-yard effort vs. McKeesport.

One to watch: Tim Jackson

Allderdice, jr., 6-1, 155

Jackson led the City League with 1,009 yards and nine touchdowns on 33 catches last season. He and twin brother James, the team's quarterback, led Allderdice to the City League championship game.

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