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Plum tackle Tecak ready to make impact

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Jason Bridge | Trib Total Media
Plum's Jake Tecak blocks during practice Friday, Aug. 8, 2014, at the high school field.
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Dan Speicher | For Trib Total Media
Plum senior outside linebacker Jake Tecak, poses for a portrait during team photo day on Friday August 14, 2015.

It was one of the biggest games for the Plum football team in almost two decades.

Last year’s WPIAL Class AAAA first-round playoff game against No. 4 Penn Hills, one of Plum’s main rivals for so many years, was a chance for the Mustangs to show the WPIAL they had fully arrived.

Senior Jake Tecak had motivation from his teammates to get the job done and advance to the WPIAL quarterfinals.

But on an offensive play in the first quarter, Tecak’s night, and his season, came to a sudden end.

The offensive tackle suffered ACL and MCL tears, and the severe knee injury forced him to be a spectator as his teammates battled through the rest of the season’s challenges.

Plum (6-4) upset Penn Hills, 17-6, then fell to Quad East foe McKeesport in the quarterfinals.

After several months of rehab, and several months to refocus on his goals and mission, the 6-foot-6, 295-pound Division I prospect, who slimmed down roughly 70 pounds since last season, said he’s ready to make an impact, both for himself and his team.

“I’ve really noticed that I am faster, stronger and quicker now that I went from 370 to 295,” Tecak said.

Tecak said with all of the returning talent from last year, there is a mission to challenge for the Quad East title and do some damage in the WPIAL playoffs.

He also is focused on his goal of proving his worth to college programs.

“I think a lot of colleges undervalued me because I was up to 370, and some of them haven’t seen me at 295, so I have a lot to prove, and that motivates me,” said Tecak, who has garnered D-I interest since his sophomore season.

“A lot of them wanted me to lose that weight, and some of them don’t know that I did lose the weight. I was able to do what they wanted me to do.”

Tecak said doctors initially told him the injury only was an MCL tear.

“A couple of weeks later, I felt fine,” he said. “Then I went back for another MRI, and it said I had torn my ACL and had to have surgery.”

Tecak went in for repairs Dec. 19, and the rehab process began. He was cleared to return to workouts July 17.

“The doctors said that I went into the surgery pretty strong,” he said. “I did a lot of squads and lunges to keep my quads strong in those four weeks. My physical therapist said that it should’ve taken eight or nine months to fully recover, but for how strong I was when I went in, I completed everything a lot faster.

“That was my goal, and I kept pretty focused.”

Plum coach Matt Morgan said Tecak, who also will be a main cog along the defensive line in addition to his offensive tackle duties, has looked good since his return.

Tecak was a second team all-conference pick as a sophomore, and he earned honorable mention recognition last season.

“Jake started off as a big recruit two years ago,” Morgan said. “He looks like a whole different player. He’s playing with a chip on his shoulder. He said he has a lot to prove, and he’s proving it so far.”

Michael Love is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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