Something just feels right about saying Blackhawk football is back.
After a decade of underwhelming football, a new stadium, new coach and a new star have the Cougars in the conversation as a perennial power.
While doing research for this, I came across the Beaver County Times preview story for the Cougars, where junior running back Marques Watson-Trent was listed as a depth guy who could possibly take some carries in the offense.
That’s not a knock on the Times, I worked for them, I know what it’s like talking to coaches the first week of camp and trying to figure out every player at every position.
It’s more of a testament of the kind of season Watson-Trent had.
In only eight games – he missed a few due to Mono – Watson-Trent had 15 touchdowns, 700 rushing yards and 350 receiving yards as Blackhawk had its first 10-win season since 2008.
Watson-Trent said the new coaching staff brought in a new offensive game plan, allowing more opportunities to put the ball in play-makers’ hands and let them do what they do best.
The success did not go unnoticed as Watson-Trent is one of the best junior players in the WPIAL and is the subject of Pittsburgh Sports Now’s 2020 WPIAL Top Prospects.
College programs’ interest has been steady since the end of the season with official offers from Howard and Duquesne, and schools like Miami (Oh.), Temple, Toledo, Rutgers, Pitt, Michigan State, Northwestern and Bowling Green, “those teams, I’ve been able to start relationships with them and they’re starting to recruit me.”
“I’m trying to just take everything in. See what’s best for me as a player and also a student. Right now, I don’t really have a (favorite). I’m still weighing my options. I would like to stay home, but it’s not a must.”
Watson-Trent took an official visit to Miami (Oh.) last weekend – which he admitted was a really nice campus and atmosphere – and said he has visits lined up with Toledo (January 21) and Pitt and Temple in February.
Interest will remain high throughout the offseason as Watson-Trent will play on the Evolve 7v7 Pittsburgh team and will continue to put out good tape, but it may be closer to the end of his senior season until the offers start to pour in.
Sound familiar? A new offensive system, allowing a Beaver County star to flourish in the eleventh hour?
If you thought of Aliquippa’s Will Gipson you’re correct.
The two were roommates for a time while playing for Evolve and Watson-Trent said the two have a good relationship.
“I definitely know what he went through, I know what a lot of players in the WPIAL went through (during the recruiting process) I kind of learned from them just being affiliated with them, It’s easier on me because I get to learn (some of the ins-and-outs).”
Watson-Trent said he projects himself as a safety or nickel cornerback at the next level, with the speed to cover anyone on the field. He said teams have been projecting similar roles for him and even said there’s a chance he can play offense at the next level.
“We’re (defensive players) getting a lot more physical as the game progresses, more physical and faster. The offensive guys, it’s a challenge for them now, because they were always thought of as the versatile players, but now on the defensive end, we’re very versatile, like having the size of a linebacker and having the coverage (skills) of a defensive back.”
Watson-Trent had one interception, five forced fumbles and recorded 70 tackles last season, and was first-team all-section as a running back and defensive back. He was also named co-player of the year with South Fayette’s Jamie Diven (pretty good company).
— Marques Watson-Trent (@_MW23__) November 12, 2018
The comparisons to Gipson are pretty sound offensively, he has a knack for turning screen passes into long touchdowns and high-points deep balls really well.
But watching his highlight tape, he’s a defensive player.
From his safety position, he tackles really well in the backfield and he hits a ton all over the field. He can diagnose plays quickly and isn’t just an athlete using speed to make plays. He has all the right instincts to be the next star defensive back from Beaver County.