All you need to know about Tre Cunningham is Jeannette football coach Roy Hall said he could have been the team’s MVP.
Cunningham couldn’t have asked for a better senior season.
He helped Jeannette win WPIAL and PIAA Class A football titles and become the WPIAL’s all-time wins leader in the process, and he was the Tribune-Review’s basketball and baseball player of the year.
So he was an easy choice as the Tribune-Review’s Boys Athlete of the Year.
Cunningham was an impact player in all three phases as a wide receiver, linebacker and kicker for the football team.
“He won a couple games including the Imani (Christian) game with his punting,” Hall said. “He has great hands and is fast. If he concentrated on football, he would have probably gotten Division I offers.”
Cunningham had 30 catches for 466 yards and seven touchdowns. He also had 55 extra points and four field goals.
In basketball, when Jeannette scrambled with injuries, Cunningham took charge in key games.
“We called him ‘The Quiet Assassin,’ ” Jeannette basketball coach Adrian Batts said. “He willed us to a win against Serra even though he had the flu. He was a great leader.
“Tre really stepped up this season for us. There were times when he really carried us.”
The 6-foot-4 swingman averaged 18.9 points and 6.6 rebounds for Jeannette (21-5).
While Jeannette came up short in defending its 2017 WPIAL Class A baseball championship, Cunningham had a solid season.
“He stepped up in big games all season,” Jeannette baseball coach Marcus Clarkson said. “Tre was a leader by example and had a great career for us.”
Cunningham wants to play baseball in college and is leaning toward Division III La Roche though he’s undecided.
The lanky right-handed pitcher/infielder batted .600 with 23 RBIs and 22 runs scored. He had 27 hits, which included four doubles.
On the mound, Cunningham was 4-1 with a save and an ERA of 1.91. He struck out 43 and walked 11.
Talk about what you accomplished as a senior.
I like to look back at all my coaches when I was younger who coached me up when I got to this level. My dad always told me not to worry, just go out and play. I didn’t worry about making mistakes and just being aggressive and make them aggressive mistakes. I just went out and played my senior season. I just played to my ability.
There were a lot of highlights, but the football season was outstanding and football wasn’t your favorite sport?
My friends talked me into playing football. I wanted to be with them. I didn’t play my sophomore year because I focused on baseball and basketball. But I came out my junior year because I wasn’t going to get these high school years back. At the beginning of the season, everyone counted us out. No one thought we’d beat Clairton after we lost 40-6, and no one thought we’d beat Imani because all the recruits it had. We were a family and played as hard as we could, and we got it done.
You did a lot of things for the football team.
I just did what I was asked.
What was bigger: defeating Clairton or winning the state championship game?
Winning the state championship game. I wanted to beat Clairton, but getting that ring was way better than beating Clairton.
How about basketball season?
The highlight of the basketball season was beating Greensburg Central Catholic both times. Not just beating them, but beating them by a lot. After we lost my sophomore season, my dad would talk about (Neil) McDermott dunking on us. “That could be you if you worked harder.” And I got a few dunks this season.
What does it mean to be a Jayhawk?
Being a Jayhawk is not mainly being a player, it’s about representing your city. A lot of people who are not from Jeannette think it’s a bad town, and we just produce athletes. We just don’t produce athletes. We produce a lot of good people. We’re a good city now. We’re not as bad as people think we are.
Do you have pregame rituals?
I’m really superstitious. If we won a game, I’d try to do the same thing before the next game.
What’s your favorite meal that your mom makes?
Her mac and cheese. Everyone loves it. I can’t reveal the recipe.
Is there something that would surprise people that you do?
I’m getting a motorcycle.