NORTH HUNTINGDON, Pa. — Ever since Santana Moss told the world that big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games, you have heard the quote across every NFL locker room, college campus, and high school lunch table. Everyone wants to be a big-time player, but only so many players live up to the moment of making big-time plays in big-time games.
While junior athlete Khiryn Boyd entered the 2021 season a bit unknown, and he still does not have a Division I scholarship offer, he showed the world that he is everything that Santana Moss famously proclaimed back in the day.
Boyd was electric in North Allegheny’s 35-21 win over Pittsburgh Central Catholic, a game that led the Tigers to their first-ever WPIAL 6A championship, and first WPIAL championship overall since 2012.
“He’s a big-time player,” North Allegheny head coach Art Walker told a group of reporter’s post-game when asked about Boyd. “He may not be as big or tall as a lot of other guys, but he has ball skills, he has the ability, I mean he is a Division-I football player.”
Boyd is listed as 5-foot-10, 170 pounds. Meanwhile, he spent most of the night lined up across from Peter Gonzalez, a star wide receiver with multiple Division I offers. Gonzalez is listed at 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds.
Walker did not care about the size advantage, as he asked his top cornerback to follow the big wideout around the field. Boyd did just that. Gonzalez had 28 yards receiving in the first half. While he finished with a strong game, most of his yardage came on screen passes, and almost all of it came when Central Catholic was down two scores.
Boyd did not shut him out but compared to what many thought would happen when seeing the size matchup, Boyd won the matchup with ease.
“It feels great that my coach trusted me and knows the corner that I am, and I have the right to guard Peter Gonzalez,” Boyd humbly stated.
Down 6-0, Central Catholic looked to Gonzalez for an early spark. They attacked Boyd deep down the field, and slowly learned that this may not be an option. Boyd obviously lacked the height, which is what the made third-down pass breakup so impressive. Boyd won the repetition with great ball tracking, technique, and understanding of the spacing around him.
When he broke up the pass, he did a signature dance of flapping his arms that had the sideline hyped.
“I am just hype, I am always happy, I get my teammates hype, and we just do our thing,” said Boyd of his post-breakup celebration that started with him doing it on a play against Gonzalez, but by the end of the game the entire defense and bench were doing it anytime Boyd was tested.
Boyd forced a punt and then took over on offense. Boyd ripped a double move and got wide open for a 41-yard touchdown. He made two plays in the span of about a minute that broke the game open.
“Before the play was called, I told coach, ‘Call this play,” said Boyd with a smile. “It worked, I knew I was going to be wide open.”
With that type of confidence, how could the team not follow the lead of Boyd and play the game with a swagger that had PCC shaken?
Boyd got open later in the game on a 69-yard strike. Central Catholic tied the score up at 14, and Boyd made a play two plays later. He ran a double move against man coverage, burnt his defender, and nobody was close to him from there.
“They were playing man-to-man, trying to take the run away, so we had the chance to take some shots,” added Walker.
Then, the defense continued. Gonzalez got inside leverage and tried to run a post for a big gain. However, Boyd attacked the football with ferocity. The physicality of the smaller corner crashing down on Gonzalez had him bobble the football and drop it.
Boyd had another pass breakup on a deep shot that involved him turning his hips and high-pointing the ball to knock it away, despite the five-inch difference in height. The dominance of this performance will not show up in the stat sheet, but the physicality and swagger that were displayed as Boyd shut down a top-level athlete were eye-opening.
“What he did against a great receiver like (Pete) Gonzalez, who physically is bigger than him, and what he did against a great secondary, and his return ability, I don’t know how you could go wrong giving a scholarship to a kid like him,” added Walker.
It is not often you see a coach plea for a player to get more attention so passionately and publicly, but the performance that Boyd had makes you understand why. The junior season is a breakout campaign that will surely put Boyd on the map, but it is obvious that size concerns still have big schools concerned.
However, Boyd put on a big-time performance against a big-time player and showed up during the biggest moment the NA football team has had in a decade. Khiryn Boyd is a player to watch, not only as he embarks on what could be a huge senior season, but as the stakes also get bigger next week, when NA moves from the WPIAL playoffs to the PIAA playoffs.
“Just do our thing and stay humble,” said Boyd about the raising of stakes.
North Allegheny will take on State College next week, with the time and site to be determined in the PIAA Class-6A state quarterfinals.