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High School Football Player of the Year: Austin Kemp, Thomas Jefferson

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Austin Kemp, a standout senior running back at Thomas Jefferson High School, made major waves this season in the WPIAL.

The 5’11” 210-pound Kemp was been a major threat for the Jaguars, using both his size and skills to carry TJ's offense. When the Jaguars season ended early (by TJ's standards) with a disappointing WPIAL semifinals loss to West Allegheny, Kemp wrapped up one of the most impressive offensive careers at Thomas Jefferson.

Kemp ended the regular season as the WPIAL’s leading scorer with 200 points, a total only a handful of others in the history of the WPIAL have achieved. Playing quarterback in the Jags' wildcat formation, Kemp was asked to handle the ball on just about every snap of every game all season long. Thomas Jefferson domininated their regular season schedule, thanks in large part to Kemp's “Player of the Game” performances week after week.

“I would have to say I owe my success to how hard we work in practice, and all the work that we put in during the offseason,” said Kemp.

Head coach Bill Cherpak, currently 191-37 (.837 winning percentage) at TJ, has clearly seen his share of dominant players.

“I think that fact that Austin is such a good leader and he works hard makes him a standout player," Cherpak said. "The most important thing as a coach is when your players are hard workers.”

After suffering a shoulder injury during Week 8 of the regular season, Kemp sat out the Jaguars last regular season game.

He still led the WPIAL in rushing with 1,570 yards, and he back stronger than ever in the playoffs.

In the first round, as the Jaguars crushed No. 15 Moon 49-15, Kemp stepped right back behind center and rushed for 224 yards and three touchdowns. He only played the first half -- which was the case most of the season as well, thanks to the Jaguars' dominant performances.

The second round was no different, with Kemp running all over Mars. He complimented his 179-yard evening with another three touchdowns.Thomas Jefferson Jaguars Austin Kemp

Coming into the season, Cherpak knew Kemp had the potential to be the center of the offense. As a junior, Kemp rushed for a team high 1,101 yards and recorded 17 touchdowns.

“He is very versatile, he can run with power and he can run with speed," said Cherpak. "That balanced running style is very tough to defend.”

As a linebacker, Kemp also recorded 34 tackles on the season.

Kemp ended his impressive career with 3,259 yards rushing on 389 carries. He averaged 108.6 yards per game over his career, while scoring a whopping 57 total touchdowns.

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