TribLIVE

| Sports

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Gorman: McKenzie won't rest until he's the best

TribLIVE Sports Videos

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.
Top high school sports

Kevin Gorman podcasts

  • Loading...

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
 

Shai McKenzie used a WPIAL playoff failure as motivation for a record-setting junior season.

When Aliquippa stopped McKenzie cold in the Class AA quarterfinals last fall, the Washington tailback decided he needed to get faster and stronger.

“I didn't have any yards that game. I wasn't ready for that,” McKenzie said. “That was a big motivator.”

His success this fall has surprised even McKenzie, though it's the improvement he was hoping for when he went out for track and started lifting weights for the first time last spring so he could break more tackles.

“I knew I couldn't just rely on natural talent,” he said. “I knew I had a lot of potential and I have the grades, so I just knew I had to work out and get faster. Once I got my first D-I offer, I realized — and teams realized — that I was for real.”

With a 323-yard effort against Waynesburg in the Week 9, McKenzie broke Brian Davis' single-season school rushing record (1,703).

McKenzie (5-11, 210) knew that wasn't enough to quiet critics who consider the Interstate Conference soft.

“A lot of people believe that our conference isn't that great, that I just run on terrible teams,” McKenzie said. “I'm trying to make a statement in the playoffs and I think I did (Friday) night.”

McKenzie rushed for a WPIAL-best 260 yards and six touchdowns in a first-round victory over Shady Side Academy to improve his season totals to 2,162 yards and 36 touchdowns.

“I didn't think I would have 2,000 yards right now,” McKenzie said. “I was hoping for a better season, and I guess it came around.”

So have major-college programs, as McKenzie has scholarship offers from Pitt, Duke, Purdue, Toledo and Youngstown State. He also is receiving interest from the likes of Alabama, Florida, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Ohio State, Temple and Wisconsin.

“I thought I was more of a smaller-school prospect,” he said. “As I progressed through the season, I realized I was getting better and can be an SEC player or someone who plays in big-time bowls one day.”

McKenzie needs only 803 yards to break Davis' career school record of 4,480 yards, but his focus is on proving he's an elite prospect in the Class of 2014.

“There's a lot of great athletes, but I'm just looking to improve,” McKenzie said. “I wasn't looking to break Brian Davis' record, or any record, but trying to get better.”

Until he's the best.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. Steelers RB Archer trying to catch up after tough rookie season
  2. Judge lets New Kensington Ten Commandments monument stand
  3. Steelers LB Timmons has grown into leadership role on defense
  4. Consol takes $603 million loss in second quarter
  5. Steelers notebook: Backup QB Gradkowski remains out with shoulder issue
  6. Leisure, hospitality lead Pittsburgh area job gains
  7. Rising East Liberty out of reach for Pittsburgh’s poor
  8. Pirates third baseman Ramirez’s last ride is about winning a ring
  9. Dollars and sense: High cost of child care keeps many out of work force
  10. Watering garden right during summer’s high temperatures makes difference
  11. UPMC, Allegheny Health Network employees win lunch-pay lawsuits