After transferring from Central Catholic, Thomas brings championship experience to Penn Hills

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Thursday, July 19, 2018 | 6:45 PM


Corey Thomas knew a lot about the talent at Penn Hills long before his transfer to the school from Central Catholic this past spring.

The Penn Hills resident grew up with many of the top players for the Indians, and he is happy to be reunited with them for the 2018-19 school year and the upcoming football season.

“It’s been so great to be back with them and to be focused with them on our goals,” Thomas said. “We want to be the best in the WPIAL this year. We have the talent to do that. We’re really excited for the season coming up.”

Thomas began his high school career at Serra Catholic as a freshman before transferring to Central Catholic for his sophomore and junior campaigns.

He knows what it’s like to win a WPIAL championship as he did so with the Vikings in 2016.

Last fall, the wide receiver/defensive back helped Central Catholic reach the WPIAL Class 6A championship game and finish with a 10-3 record.

Central Catholic bested Penn Hills in the WPIAL semifinals. For his efforts, Thomas was named to the Northern Seven second team at defensive back.

Thomas gives senior quarterback Hollis Mathis, a Howard commit, another target in an already potent Penn Hills offense.

The Indians defense also gained a player who also can line up at linebacker and safety and provide some physicality that will be welcomed in what is shaping up to be challenging battles in the revamped 5A classification.

Penn Hills, 8-4 overall last year in 6A and a WPIAL semifinalist, dropped down into the WPIAL classification with the most teams (24) and will face the likes of Mars, Hampton, North Hills, Fox Chapel and Armstrong in conference play.

“It was a smooth transition,” Thomas said. “I had played with all of them in the past, so I know what kind of players they are. The coaches also really accepted me, too.”

Thomas said he’s focused on every aspect of his game on the field and getting stronger off the field.

“I want to do anything I can to be a more versatile player on both sides of the ball,” said Thomas, who has honed his skills this spring and summer in seven-on-seven games with his Evolve club team and Penn Hills.

“It was good to get the chemistry going early with my (Penn Hills) teammates. Now, we’re just getting ready to put the pads on. It’s crazy to hear we’re just about a month away from playing Steubenville.”

The start of preseason camps is 24 days away, and Penn Hills matches up with Steubenville (Ohio) in a Week Zero game Aug. 24.

Penn Hills coach Jon LeDonne is excited to see how Thomas fits into the offense and defense.

“Corey came right in and became an immediate leader for us,” LeDonne said. “He has played in so many high-level games and won a WPIAL championship. He knows how things need to be done. He brings that winning attitude and leads by example. We had a nice run last year, but we didn’t get over that hump. But he is showing us what it takes to get over the hump.”

Thomas is rated a three-star recruit by Rivals and has offers from several Division I schools, such as Indiana, Bowling Green, Toledo and Navy.

“It’s fun at times, and also can be stressful and hectic,” Thomas said.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at mlove@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MLove_Trib.

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