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#TribHS DL: Depth to dominate

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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.”

#TribHS PAGE

TribHS Aug 18 -- DL

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.

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Author: Kevin Gorman

Kevin Gorman is an award-winning sports columnist for Trib Total Media who covers Western Pennsylvania prep sports in an interactive, multimedia platform. He hosts a show from 2-3 p.m. every Friday on TribLIVE Radio, does the Skylights Spotlight segment for WPXI-TV during football season and is a contributor to WPXI's The Final Word. Gorman joined the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review in August 1999 and has been a sports columnist since September 2009. He won Pennsylvania Newspaper Association first-place awards for sports columns in 2011 and '12, and has covered the Super Bowl and Stanley Cup Final twice each, the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, the Rose, Citrus and Sun bowls and the Big East and NCAA basketball tournaments. Gorman spent three years as the Pitt football beat writer, two as Pitt basketball beat writer and seven years covering high school sports and recruiting. He also has served as color analyst for FSN Pittsburgh/Root Sports on the WPIAL football and basketball championships and as guest analyst for its Trib Total Media High School Edition. Gorman has worked at newspapers in Memphis, Phoenix, Dallas and Kansas City, which makes him something of an expert on barbecue and sunscreen. A graduate of Baldwin High School and Penn State University, Gorman has a son, Kieran, and comes from a large Irish-Catholic family whose roots are in Greenfield and Mt. Washington. Don’t be surprised if you run into one of his cousins; considering there are more than 100, be surprised if you don’t. Email kgorman@tribweb.com or follow on Twitter @KGorman_Trib.

 
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