HSFB preview by position: WPIAL is stacked at last line of defense
The last line of defense has some of the WPIAL's best athletes. Central Catholic's Johnny Petrishen and McKeesport's Khaleke Hudson, the two most highly acclaimed safeties this season, also could be among the most highly recruited players overall.
Petrishen, a senior, has more than two dozen college offers. Hudson, a junior, might rival that number by the time he's a senior.
They both can play offense, Petrishen at wide receiver and Hudson at running back. But for these two stars, their greatest value should be at safety.
Both defenses ranked among the Class AAAA leaders in points allowed. Central Catholic was first at 7.3 points per game. McKeesport ranked fourth at 14.1.
As more offenses adopt passing attacks, defenses must be stronger in the secondary. But these safeties are there for more than just chasing wideouts.
Penn Hills senior Te'Shan Campbell and Pine-Richland senior Brendan Burnham are strong safeties who use their skills during wrestling season.
And Hudson has earned the nickname Hit Man.
1. Johnny Petrishen
Central Catholic, sr., 6-2, 200
Petrishen holds 30 Division 1 offers from BCS and FCS programs, with Pitt, Virginia and Wake Forest among the best. He had an interception in the state championship, but his best junior highlights were on special teams. He returned four kicks for touchdowns, with punt returns of 68 and 67 yards.
2. Khaleke Hudson
McKeesport, jr., 6-0, 205
Hudson, who has scholarship offers from Pitt and West Virginia among others, had two interceptions last season, one he returned 54 yards. A strong safety who also plays tailback, he scored five rushing touchdowns, with a 48-yarder and a 38-yarder included.
3. Art Thompkins
Woodland Hills, sr., 5-9, 170
Thompkins, who committed to Toledo, was a two-way player last season for Woodland Hills, starting as both a safety and a running back or receiver. He's also an outstanding kick returner, with a 94-yard score as proof. All combined, he had 10 touchdowns last year.
4. Te'Shan Campbell
Penn Hills, sr., 5-10, 170
Campbell, who has a scholarship offer from Albany, moved from linebacker to strong safety to better use his skills. He returned an interception 25 yards for a score last season, one of his four touchdowns. He also wrestled for Penn Hills, and placed fourth in Section 1-AAA at 160 pounds.
5. Brendan Burnham
Pine-Richland, sr., 5-11, 170
A first-team all-conference pick in the Quad North, Burnham led Pine-Richland with 87 tackles last year, had two interceptions and blocked a field goal try. He's also an accomplished wrestler and won the Section 3-AAA title last year at 160 pounds with a 30-4 record.
One to watch: John Horner
Gateway, sr., 6-4, 185
Horner spent last season with Renaissance Christian Academy, a non-WPIAL-sanctioned team that played out-of-town opponents. Earlier this summer, he reported college offers from Akron and James Madison.