It’s been an unforgettable freshman season for Aliquippa running back Tiqwai Hayes.
It started with being thrust into a lead role as Aliquippa’s lead running back, after not anticipating playing much during his freshman season. From there, Hayes and his teammates went on to beat No. 1 Belle Vernon for the WPIAL Class 4-A Championship. Then last evening, the Quips beat Bishop McDevitt, 34-20, to capture the PIAA Class-4A State Championship. The freshman phenom led the way with 141 yards rushing and three touchdowns.
Hard to believe this kid is just a freshman. Tiqwai Hayes puts Aliquippa on the board in the state final with this 42-yard touchdown run. Quips trail Bishop McDevitt, 13-7. Hayes then flashes his Penn State gloves. They extended him his first offer last week. pic.twitter.com/J1LlqP4tM3
— Brad Everett (@BREAL412) December 10, 2021
This fairytale season was capped off by picking up his first two D-1 offers. They weren’t just any other offers, first came last week from Penn State and then this morning, Hayes got word that his second offer came from the Pitt Panthers.
Pittsburgh Sports Now spoke with Hayes this morning as he made his way back to Aliquippa from Hershey and talked to him about this 2021 season and the news he received this morning from Pitt.
“This has been amazing, really unthinkable,” said Hayes. “I thought that winning the state title would just feel like another win but it really didn’t. Last night felt like the best feeling in the world. We’re heading back now to the city and that’s what we all do it for, the city of Aliquippa. What made us so good is just our hard work and dedication and our ‘why not us?’ mentality. We were just so well-conditioned and all just wanted to get better and get stronger.”
“Yes sir, I’m totally surprised at what I was able to accomplish. At the start of the season, I wasn’t even supposed to play and wasn’t even going to get into the game. But after getting that opportunity, I was able to shine and I never looked back. I want to thank our offensive line and our quarterback because they helped me out so much. They helped me learn the plays so fast, which obviously helped us out and it all led to our team winning the state championship.”
— Prospect Media (@prospectmedia_) December 10, 2021
Hayes (5’11”, 185 pounds) was slated to start the season as a reserve in the Aliquippa running back rotation but after a couple injuries and instant success, he quickly became the Quips top offensive weapon. Hayes finished his first high school season by rushing for 1,720 yards and 23 touchdowns.
“One of my biggest strengths is my IQ, I have a 4.1 GPA, so school comes first for me,” said Hayes. “Another strength is that I think I have sneaky speed and when I’m running, I can get real fast at times. I also have strong legs and get a lot of my yards after contact. I believe I surprised a lot of people this year. I broke the record for rushing yards by a freshman in the WPIAL. Now I have all the confidence in the world and I can’t wait for next year.”
The sky seems to be the limit for Hayes and his offer list will no doubt skyrocket by this time next year. Today was a pleasant surprise when he got word that his hometown team became his second D-1 offer.
“That’s a big offer and a really good school and they’re right down the road,” Hayes said. “My family could come to every single game. Getting these first two offers are such a motivator for me. Knowing how much time left I have in high school and how much potential I have, I expect myself to keep moving forward and keep getting better.”