Aliquippa’s Devonshire aims to continue streak of finals appearances

July 4, 2018
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The Tribune-Review and the TribLive High School Sports Network are profiling each member of the 25-player Trib HSSN Preseason WPIAL Football All-Star team.

The players will be recognized at 2 p.m. July 24 during HSSN Media Day at Kennywood Park.

Aliquippa senior M.J. Devonshire was in first grade the last time the Quips didn’t reach the WPIAL football finals.

That was 2007.

“Almost every year I’ve been in school I’ve been at Heinz Field,” he said, “either watching or playing.”

This is a transition year for the Quips, who hired Aliquippa graduate Mike Warfield as their first-year head coach, but their title game expectations remain the same, said Devonshire, who returns as a key two-way starter.

After 10 consecutive years, there’s understandable pressure to keep that championship streak alive.

“Definitely,” Devonshire said. “We were talking about it in the huddle when we were down to Beaver last year in the playoffs. We said: ‘We can’t be the team that doesn’t go to Heinz Field.’

“We’ve got to get there.”

If so, Devonshire likely will play a key role.

The 5-foot-11, 170-pound defensive back and wide receiver is a four-star talent who ranks among the top college recruits in the state. Devonshire scored 13 times last season, including an 81-yard punt return and a 72-yard interception return.

Showing his sprinter’s speed, Devonshire won WPIAL Class AA track titles in the 100 and 200 meters in May, and his 400 relay team also won gold.

Nearly a dozen FBS schools have offered him a scholarship, a list that includes Pitt, West Virginia, Michigan State and Ohio State. He’s the latest in a storied line of talented Aliquippa defensive backs, a history that includes recent graduates Dravon Askew-Henry and Kwantel Raines, now both at WVU.

Rivals ranks him second among Pennsylvania’s senior recruits behind only Pine-Richland lineman Andrew Kristofic, a Notre Dame commit.

Devonshire plans to make his college decision around the last week of July or the first week in August.

“I’m still discussing it with my family right now,” he said. “After this dead period (on the recruiting calendar), I’ve got to take a couple of more visits. Then I’ll be narrowing it down.”

Devonshire intercepted four passes last season as part of a dominant defense that didn’t allow a touchdown until Week 7. Avoiding him might become even harder for quarterbacks this year.

“I could be at safety one play and corner the next,” he said. “Our coach really wants to move me around so offenses can’t account for me.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at charlan@tribweb.com or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.

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