ALIQUIPPA, Pa. — Aliquippa junior running back Tiqwai “Tikey” Hayes is one of the best players in the WPIAL and he has continued to show that in 2023.
Tiqwai Hayes ran for three touchdowns in the first half against Montour Friday night at Heinz Field, finishing with 20 carries for 97 yards in the 42-18 win. He is one of just less than a hundred WPIAL players to have over 4,000 rushing yards and is continuing to improve on his own game this season. Against North Catholic last week, he rushed for 201 yards and three touchdowns and had three more rushing touchdowns in the season opening win against Armstrong in Week 1.
“Our season has been going great,” Hayes said following the win. “Everybody think that just because we lost our big boys that it was going to go downhill, but I have more rushing yards that I got right now than I had last year at this time that I had at this point. I feel like our line, the quarterback stepped up, the wide receivers made plays as they should, and I feel like our defense was amazing like always.”
Hayes recently released his top eight schools on Sept. 5, which has Pitt, Penn State, West Virginia, Cincinnati, along with Big Ten schools in Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State and Maryland.
All of those schools have been working hard to get Hayes to join their program. He visited Ohio State in the spring, while also attending the Pitt-Cincinnati game last week, as he got to see both teams battle it out in the River City Rivalry.
“I feel like those are the most important schools to me out of all that offered because they’re the top educational schools in American, so I got to pick those schools,” Hayes said. “That’s what my mom wants, and I plan to stay four years to get my degree no matter what.”
Hayes plays on both sides of the ball, serving as a middle linebacker along with his duties as the main running back for the Quips. He has been communicating with college coaches and has learned that, while they love almost everything about his game, there is one thing they’re looking to see him improve.
“They’re looking at me to get on my speed,” Hayes said. “I got next level speed, but it’s not like high as it should be. They asked me to get my speed up and everything like that. They said everything was good, but my speed.”
Another week for Hayes means another week with two of his colleges in the top eight play each other. Pitt and West Virginia fight for supremacy in the Backyard Brawl Saturday night, a game that will feature a nationwide audience on ABC.
“I’m going to watch it,” Hayes said. “I feel like it’s going to be a good game, Imma watch it.”
Aliquippa, with Hayes a part of the team, has won two WPIAL titles and been to two PIAA Title games, with a victory in 2021 over Bishop McDevitt and then a loss to them last season.
While another state title is always the No. 1 goal for Hayes, he wants to see his team come together and improve on their relationships with each other going forward.
“Create a brotherhood because at the start of the season, it was iffy. Everything was dry. It wasn’t like the last couple of years. So, we’re working on our chemistry. That’s what we need to do.”