Inquirer Player of the Year: Nasir Peoples was clutch down the stretch for Archbishop Wood

Nasir Peoples (5) sparked Archbishop Wood’s drive to a fifth state title by rushing for 1,838 yards and 29 scores.

Nasir Peoples came through when his team needed him the most.

The swift and powerful senior tailback ran for at least 120 yards in each of the last six games of Archbishop Wood’s drive to a fifth PIAA state championship in seven seasons.

Peoples became the latest in a recent line of highly dangerous ballcarriers for the Vikings, joining the likes of Raheem “Speedy” Blackshear, Shawn Thompson, Jarrett McClenton, Andrew Guckin, Desmon Peoples, and Brandon Peoples.

Camera icon STEVEN M. FALK
Archbishop Wood’s Nasir Peoples runs for yardage in a PIAA Class 5A state semifinal win over Unionville.

Nasir Peoples carried 232 times for 1,838 yards and 29 touchowns in Wood’s 12-2 campaign.

“What made him special was his patience, his vision, and the fact that he never shied away from contact,” Vikings coach Steve Devlin said. “It always took more than one guy to bring him down.”

Brandon Peoples, Nasir’s brother, and Desmon Peoples, his cousin, each eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark as the Vikings went 14-1 and earned top Class 3A state honors in 2011.

Nasir Peoples carried 25 times for a career-high 267 yards and four scores as Wood buried District 7’s Gateway, 49-14, for the Class 5A championship earlier this month. He found pay dirt on runs of 68, 2, 14, and 13 yards.

The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder, who signed Wednesday to play for Virginia Tech, was also a full-time defensive back and a breakaway threat as a punt returner. For his overall contributions, he is the Inquirer’s Southeastern Pennsylvania football player of the year.

Last year, when the Vikings relied heavily on the one-two rushing punch of Blackshear and Thompson, Peoples was mostly used as a slot receiver and defensive back.

“We knew he was going to be our go-to running back as a senior,” Devlin said. “Last year, he showed what he could do on jet sweeps and screen plays.”

This season, Peoples was voted the Catholic League Red Division’s most valuable player, earning first-team honors on both sides of the ball. He was a first-team defensive back last year.

On defense, he switched between free safety and cornerback.

“If we were playing a team with a really good receiver, we would put Nasir at cornerback,” Devlin said. “He was a great lockdown guy.”

Peoples carried 23 times for 176 yards and four scores as Wood rolled past Simon Gratz, 36-6, in the District 12 final.

The Class 5A all-state selection chose Virginia Tech over Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Temple, and West Virginia. He is expected to play defensive back for the Hokies.

“I think he’s going to be phenomenal in college,” Devlin said. “He’s got the speed, the toughness, and work ethic to be successful.”