Varsity Xtra: Legacy Series -- Darrelle Revis' dominance

Western Pennyslvania has produced a number of great athletes who have gone on to have famous careers. Varsity Xtra


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Three days.

Long before there was Revis Island, Darrelle Revis did something memorable in Aliquippa football and basketball uniforms in the matter of ...

Three days.

Long before he played in the NFL and had his own Nike shoe, Revis put his foot through the door to Western Pennsylvania glory and it took ...

Three days.

Dec. 9 to Dec. 11, 2003. Three days. Two unforgettable performances. One incredible athlete.

Revis must have switched uniforms in a phone booth over those three days because where else would Superman change?

"Is what he did legendary? Absolutely," Aliquippa football coach Mike Zmijanac said.

In just a few more days, it will be the 10th anniversary of Revis' remarkable three-day period that should continue to live in Western Pennsylvania lore. In short, Revis had one of the greatest individual performances in PIAA football championship history, scoring five touchdowns three different ways while leading Aliquippa to a 32-27 victory against Northern Lehigh in the Class AA title game.

Two days later, Revis played his first basketball game of the season against rival Beaver Falls and scored 35 points to lead Aliquippa to an 86-82 overtime win.

"I don't think people really realize what he did in those three days," said Sherman McBride, an Aliquippa assistant coach in football and basketball in 2003. "You have to understand. He did what he did in that basketball game with only one practice. In fact, it wasn't a practice. They just shot around one day."

Reliving those three days shows Revis' incredible athleticism.

There wasn't supposed to be only two days in between Aliquippa's PIAA football championship game and the Beaver Falls basketball game. But because of snow in Hershey, Aliquippa's Class AA football final was moved back a day to a Sunday afternoon.

Aliquippa faced a Northern Lehigh team that had allowed only 47 points all year. Revis, a senior, scored 30 by himself. In the game, he played running back, receiver, quarterback, defensive back and returned kicks.

Here are a few of his accomplishments:

* Revis rushed for 91 yards on 13 attempts and scored three touchdowns, including a 64-yarder that turned out to be the game winner.

* He returned a kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown.

* He picked up a blocked field goal and returned it 69 yards for a touchdown.

* He intercepted a pass and returned it 33 yards, and had another interception negated because of a penalty.

* He completed a 39-yard pass that set up a touchdown.

* He caught one pass for 6 yards.

* He had five solo tackles.

After the game, Zmijanac had a memorable line, saying "I was Ron Turcotte. He was the jockey who rode Secretariat years ago to the Triple Crown. We had a horse and I just said, 'Let's ride him.'"

After the game, Revis did more than just bask in the glory of a state championship. He was thinking ahead.

"I remember when we were getting on the bus Sunday after the game," Zmijanac said, "and he said to me, 'You think I ought to play Tuesday [against Beaver Falls]?' I said, 'You're 17. Of course you play.' Obviously he agreed with me."

There are reasons football teams usually play only one game a week. It takes time for the body to heal and the soreness to go away. Revis certainly wasn't the first athlete in WPIAL history to play basketball a few days after football season ended.

He wasn't even the only Aliquippa football player to play in the basketball game two days later.

"But the fact that he had such a great game in both is what made him legendary," Zmijanac said.

McBride said, "I do remember Darrelle saying, 'You know, Beaver Falls was the only team to beat us in football?' [If the basketball game was against] Any other team in the section, he may not have been so ready to play basketball."

Zmijanac had also been the coach of the Aliquippa basketball team, but the 2003-04 season was the first he didn't coach both sports. Marvin Emerson took over as the basketball coach.

"I remember one thing Marvin did was he tried to rest the football players as much as he could in the game," McBride said. "But he said, 'There's no sense resting Darrelle because this guy is on fire.'"

Revis was a 6-foot-1 guard in basketball who was one of the best players in the WPIAL the year before, leading the league in scoring at 25 points a game. Against Beaver Falls, he made 11 of 19 from the field and 12 of 15 from the free-throw line. Revis basically got to the basket at will.

"I knew my outside shot wouldn't be there yet," Revis said after the game. "I'll get it during the season. Toward the fourth quarter, I started to get a little tired. But I told myself I had to dig deep."

The game had a fantastic finish as Beaver Falls sophomore Lance Jeter made a shot beyond half court to send the game into overtime. Revis scored the first basket in overtime and Aliquippa never trailed again.

"It was horrendous coaching on my part. I was overly stubborn," Beaver Falls basketball coach Doug Biega said.

"If you watched the game, not one Aliquippa kid could even lift his head by the third quarter. I continued to press because I thought they would all peter out. But Darrelle didn't. He just kept scoring. Even in overtime, he didn't get tired. If I would've gone box-and-one, we win by 30.

"Kids like Darrelle and [Jeannette's] Terrelle Pryor, you're blessed to see them up close. Darrelle made things look easy. But I don't think most people really understand how hard it was for him to do what he did in those three days."

From the kickoff of that football game to the finish of the basketball game was about 57 hours. Revis made it an unforgettable 57 hours.

At one time, Revis entertained thoughts of playing Division I basketball. He was good enough to do it. But about a month after the Beaver Falls basketball game, he accepted a football scholarship to Pitt.

The rest is history.

"He would have been an average Division I basketball player," Zmijanac said. "I remember saying to him, 'There are 10 point guards in New York City alone better than you. But there is no cornerback in the world better than you. So play football.'

"If he played basketball, he wouldn't be who he is today. He wouldn't be a millionaire."


For more on high school sports, go to "Varsity Blog" at www.post-gazette.com/varsityblog. Mike White: mwhite@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1975 and Twitter @mwhiteburgh

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