Akira McClean registered 14 sacks as a junior before being injured, so the Woodland Hills defensive end knows what it’s like to spend time on the sidelines.
And what a precarious position that can be for the Wolverines.
“At camp, it’s so heavy and fully intense,” McClean said. “You know that if you get hurt or you slack, there’s a guy behind you who’s just as good or better than you.”
That’s life on the defensive line at Woodland Hills, where the Wolverines have four seniors as returning starters and a handful of talented players behind them. The starters, for now, are 225-pound ends McClean and Will Fletcher and tackles Daniel Gibson and Kevin Solomon, with Adam McVeigh rotating in. The backups are junior tackles Amon Youngblood and Wilford Clark and ends Steve Puhl and Tyriq Thompson, as well as senior tackle Jaymier Scarborough, who returned to Woodland Hills after spending his junior year at McKeesport.
“That’s not a big change in talent,” Woodland Hills coach George Novak said of going from first to second string. “It’s important but a lot of them play offense, too, so it gives us an opportunity to rotate them in. That’s a big part of our defense. It makes life easier for the linebackers and secondary.”
My Monday column is about the combination of size and speed, depth and experience that gives Woodland Hills a chance to have the most dominant defensive line in the WPIAL this season. The Wolverines have produced dozens of defensive linemen, including NFL great Jason Taylor, and the players take pride in continuing that legacy.
“Woodland Hills has traditionally had a strong defensive line,” McClean said, “and that’s what we bring this year.”
HITTING THE LINKS
The sixth part in the #TribHS countdown to kickoff series on the top 5 players at each position focuses on how the transition to the defensive line is no easy task, by Chris Harlan.
After a year away from football, a Ford City senior looks forward to returning, by Matt Grubba.
McKeesport looks solid after strong camp competition, by Dave Mackall.
Consistency is crucial for the Southmoreland golf team, by Dave Stofcheck.
Finally, a reminder that the Trib’s GamePlan 2014 high school football preview sections will be out Friday.