Plum’s Chapla provides unique weapon for McKeesport to deal with in Week 7
NFL and college teams usually have them. But at the high school level, a reliable kicker is a commodity.
Perhaps no other WPIAL team can boast the type of kicker that Plum possesses in senior Jacob Chapla, a left-footer who holds the school record with a 51-yard field goal in 2014.
Just two weeks ago, he set another Plum mark with four field goals in a game, including one of 49 yards, in a victory over Norwin.
“He’s big time,” said McKeesport coach George Smith, whose sixth-ranked Tigers entertain No. 8 Plum in a Quad East Conference game Friday night at newly named George L. Smith Field at Weigle-Schaeffer Memorial Stadium.
Both teams own records of 5-1 overall and 4-1 in the conference.
“He gives them another weapon,” Smith said. “He’s really valuable because they play great defense. It’s tough to score on them.”
Chapla misfired on a 53-yard attempt in Plum’s only loss — to Kiski Area on Oct. 2 — when the kick had enough distance but sailed right of the mark.
“My goal is to hit at least a 57-yarder this year to at least break (the WPIAL record),” Chapla said after Plum’s 33-0 shutout of Norwin on Sept. 25.
While kicking in recent years at Plum has become a luxury, McKeesport has struggled to establish consistency.
Smith was able to find a reliable kicker last season, but Caleb Schork has been sidelined in recent weeks by a stress fracture in his leg.
It hasn’t affected the Tigers so far.
McKeesport, behind a quick-strike offense, has put up a total of 172 points in three blowout victories since suffering its only loss to No. 2 Penn-Trafford, 21-7, on Sept. 18.
“They have playmakers across the board with big linemen,” Plum coach Matt Morgan said, referring to McKeesport’s high-scoring offense. “Their line seems bigger than last year.”
When you talk about McKeesport, you talk about senior Khaleke Hudson in the flexbone offense. He rushed for 76 yards and a touchdown in a 49-14 rout of Class AAA Hopewell on Saturday. Hudson also returned an interception 50 yards for another score.
“Hudson is one of the best all-around players in the WPIAL,” Morgan said. “We saw him two times last year, and he was a huge factor both times.”
Plum got back on the winning track Friday at Connellsville, beating the Falcons, 49-23, as Nick Coxon rushed for 80 yards and two touchdowns.
McKeesport defeated Plum twice in 2014, rallying from a three-point halftime deficit for a 20-3 victory during the regular season and topping the Mustangs, 20-5, during the WPIAL playoffs.
Chapla accounted for a total of two field goals for Plum, and the Mustangs registered a safety for their only other points.
“Plum plays physical, and (Morgan) has made them that way,” Smith said. “They’re young, and they’re very good. They could beat us in a second.”
Staff writer Michael Love contributed. Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com.