Boyd & Bears: Post-Gazette player of the year Tyler Boyd's 117 touchdowns account for 25 percent of Clairton's scoring over the past four seasons.
By Mike White Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Tyler Boyd has grown up in a single-parent home with his brother and mother, and has never had a relationship with his father.
A year ago, Boyd's family home was destroyed by a fire. He was pulled out of a basketball game and told the news.
Those are just a few examples of some rough times in Boyd's young life. But his story is about surviving and thriving.
Boyd has overcome many obstacles and football has been his crutch. He has used the sport to lift himself up and also earn a couple dozen college scholarship offers.
Boyd had a tremendous career as a Clairton football player and it is capped off by being selected the Post-Gazette Player of the Year. The award takes into consideration all players in the WPIAL and City League.
"It is what it is," Boyd said of growing up in Clairton. "The things that have happened to me have helped me mature as a man because I have had to step up and help my mom and the family."
On the football field, Boyd helped his Clairton Bears family to great things. Boyd has been Mr. Everything for Clairton. This season alone he rushed for 2,567 yards on 215 carries (11.9 average), caught 12 passes for 218 yards, scored 50 touchdowns, played some at quarterback, was an outstanding defensive back, punted and also returned kicks.
Boyd led Clairton to its fifth consecutive WPIAL Class A championship and fourth consecutive PIAA title. The Bears ended the season on a 63-game winning streak. The streak is a state record and also the current longest in the country.
"He's the best player I've ever had," Clairton coach Tom Nola said.
Boyd, a 6-foot-2, 175-pound senior, finished his career with 5,755 yards rushing, good for fifth place on the all-time WPIAL list. He also set a WPIAL record with 117 career touchdowns. He was on the varsity as a freshman, but didn't become a starter until his sophomore year. Maybe the most impressive statistic about Boyd is the "W's." In his three years as a starter, Clairton was 48-0. In Boyd's four-year varsity career, Clairton was 63-1.
Boyd has a truckload full of physical attributes. But Clairton defensive coordinator Wayne Wade said something else makes Boyd a gem.
"I would say his knowledge of the game is one of his best things," Wade said. "He's a student of the game. He makes all the right checks for all the right defenses. He can read defenses and know where to run and where to cut. His knowledge of the game separates him from most kids."
But really, the things Boyd did on the field at Clairton were the same things he did during his years in youth leagues. He started playing football at age 7.
"Back in the day, I played every position but on the line," Boyd said with pride. "As long as I got the ball, it didn't really matter to me where I played. I was always pretty skillful, so I could really play anywhere."
Eric Fusco, Clairton's linebackers coach, was an assistant coach on one of Boyd's youth-league teams.
"He was all over the place, sort of like he is now," Fusco said. "You saw a lot of good things in him, but I don't know if anyone knew this was going to happen. You didn't look at him and say, 'When this kid is a senior, he is going to have about 30 Division I college offers.'
"When he got to high school is when he really blossomed."
Boyd also is an excellent basketball player, earning all-section honors as a junior. This past spring, Boyd joined the Clairton baseball team in the middle of the season and became the starting shortstop. Clairton had lost 48 baseball games in a row, but with Boyd's help, the Bears almost qualified for the WPIAL playoffs.
But football is most definitely Boyd's No. 1 sport. He already has made a visit to Pitt and has January visits scheduled for Penn State, West Virginia, Rutgers and Michigan State. Schools are recruiting him as a receiver. Boyd was originally going to announce his college choice at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio Jan. 5. But he might wait to pick a school.
"The recruiting really is getting to be a pain," Boyd said. "Schools want me to come visit. That's why I'm not really sure what I want to do."
But Boyd already has done plenty in his lifetime.
"Even after that fire last year, he kept moving. He didn't sulk about it," Wade said. "He has definitely fought through some adversity in his life."
Added Fusco: "His mom has done a really good job raising him, but the house fire thing last year could be a big blow to a kid that age. There have been a lot of things he has had to learn on his own. He's just a resilient kid."
PG Players of the Year
Year Player School
1994 Brandon Short McKeesport
1995 Tony Zimmerman Penn-Trafford
1996 LaVar Arrington North Hills
1997 Brandon Williams Valley
1998 Rod Rutherford Perry
1999 Cecil Howard McKeesport
2000 Josh Lay Aliquippa
2001 Tyler Palko West Allegheny& Steve Breaston Woodland Hills