When Mt. Lebanon football coach Bob Palko describes Alex Tecza, he doesn’t start with the size, speed or strength that has transformed him into one of the top rushers in the WPIAL.

Palko begins with Tecza’s character.

“First of all, the thing that really makes you feel good is how good a kid and unbelievable teammate Alex is,” said Palko. “He has an unassuming shy side but a quite confidence about him. He knows what he can do but he is not paralyzed by how good he is. It doesn’t affect him because he is such a nice kid that enjoys the fun, simple things in life.

That’s what makes it awesome to be around him,” the coach added. “Not a lot of kids think like him and that’s another refreshing and cool quality about him as a person.”

Tecza knows there are a variety of reasons for his success.

Heading into a critical contest with Central Catholic Oct. 8, Tecza had 718 yards rushing on 75 carries for a 9.6-yard average and 10 touchdowns. Tecza ranked eighth in rushing in the WPIAL and No. 1 in Class 6A, the league’s highest classification.

“To be honest, my success is due to our line. My name, Joey’s (Daniels) and Eli’s (Heidenreich) always make it into the news but without them, we would have no success,” Tecza said. “I get credit but it’s all on them and the receivers who also block. The linemen have been the big dogs.”

Senior James Cline centers the line around Owen Halter, who will play at Middlebury College in Vermont next year, and Division I prospects Kade Capristo and William Harvey. Joey Peters is the newest member of an experienced line, having replaced Cooper Austin, who tore his ACL during last spring’s lacrosse season.

Tecza said he often foots the bill for the hungry linemen after victories. Lebo’s favorite postgame eatery is Primanti Brothers and they down their share of burgers and chicken tenders.

“They can eat whatever they want and I’ll buy,” Tecza said. “They are a big part of this team and we all know what they do. They have the hardest part. When they do their job we all go. The o-line gets credit for mine and the team’s success this season.”

Tecza attributes his start in sports to his parents.

His mother, Dana, excelled in equestrian, swimming and cheerleadering while growing up in State College. A Lock Haven University graduate, she teaches at Mt. Lebanon School District’s Lincoln Elementary. She also instructs and coaches at T2 Crossfit in Bridgeville.

His father, Randall, played football at Allegheny College and Lock Haven after a tenure as a three-sport athlete at Cathedral Prep in Erie. He started Alex in a flag football league before his introduction to tackle football in first grade.

“My parents were always athletic and they kept me motivated and going,” said Tecza. “My dad made me fall in love with the game. I love football and being a running back. It’s something I’ve done my whole career and now I’m a defensive back like my dad. He played that position too.”

Versatility is one of Tecza’s primary strengths.

Tecza has been utilized as a running back, quarterback and wide receiver. In fact, he is tied for second on the team, behind Heidenreich, in receiving with eight catches for 50 yards. He is also deadlocked with Heidenreich in scoring with 60 points.

He has also embraced his position in the Blue Devils’ defensive backfield as a strong safety.

“I love it, the freedom,” he said. “You get to line up where you want and make plays where you want. I love offense and carrying the football but there is something about playing defense. Coming down and making a tackle feels good. Learning the plays is a lot of fun, too.”

In addition to football, Tecza enjoys lacrosse.

“It translates well to football because it helps with hand-eye coordination, quickness, strength and conditioning,” he said. “It helps with other things too like processing information and multi-tasking.”

In the classroom, Tecza processes data to the tune of a 4.3 GPA. A member of the National Honor Society, he has grabbed the attention of academic institutions such as Dartmouth, Delaware, Fordham, Colgate, Holy Cross, Robert Morris and Duquesne universities as well as the United States Military and Naval Academies. He visited Annapolis and watched the Midshipmen drop a 23-3 decision to the Air Force Sept. 11.

Tecza made the visit with Heidenreich, who since committed to Navy.

“It was a cool experience,” said Tecza said, who noted he has two grandparents who served in the military. “People should go through (serving their country) sometime in their lives.”

In the meantime, Tecza wants what all the Blue Devils want: a championship. The Blue Devils have not won a WPIAL title since 2000, when they beat Woodland Hills for the WPIAL Class 4A trophy.

“Aside from winning the WPIAL, I have not set any goals for the season. Numbers speak for themselves so whatever yardage I gain is good enough if we reach my goal for a championship,” Tecza said.

Whether on the gridiron or in life, Palko predicts such an attitude will translate into success for Tecza

“Alex is like all the kids that I have. It’s not about one person,” he said. “It’s them playing for each other and they applaud the success that everybody has. There is no jealously. That’s the most beautiful thing. Hopefully we are changing the way people think. All individual success takes care of itself. If you trust the process, they will all get there. But, it’s so much more fun when you do it together.”

Almanac Sports Editor

An award-winning journalist, Eleanor Bailey has been employed by Observer Publishing Company since 1982. She is the sports editor at The Almanac and a contributor for the Observer-Reporter.

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