Big, strong offensive line makes West Mifflin a team to watch in Class 3A

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Tuesday, August 16, 2022 | 12:01 PM


West Mifflin has been a fixture in WPIAL Class 4A football, but due to realignment, the Titans are competing in 3A for the next two seasons.

They are looking forward to and are reinvigorated to meet the unknown challenges that lie ahead.

“We have a team that grew up and came together this offseason,” said Rod Steele, West Mifflin’s fourth-year coach. “They all like each other and train hard together. We are excited for the upcoming season and the new challenges ahead of us in our new conference.

“This is the first year that I’ve had a full offseason with this team. The players have a better understanding of our terminology. Maturity and experience factors are really important.”

The Titans are looking for their offensive line play, led by junior tackle Rico Steele and junior guard Braeden Walker, to be a team strength in 2022.

Steele, the 6-foot-4, 310-pound son of West Mifflin’s coach, has offers from Toledo and Akron and has received Power 5 interest from Pitt, Penn State, West Virginia, Syracuse and Texas A&M, to name a few.

Walker (6-2, 260) has been recruited by several MAC and FCS schools.

On the right side of the line, senior Anthony Trunzo, a 6-foot, 255-pound guard, is a three-year starter while 6-3, 305-pound sophomore tackle Jaiden Brown-Demery already is receiving recruiting interest from MAC and Power 5 schools. Brown-Demery is a second-year starter.

Braeden Crousey, a 6-1, 315-pound senior who bench presses in excess of 400 pounds, is a third-year starter, fourth-year letterman and also in the mix on the O-line, as is freshman Ethan Thomas (6-3, 300). Tyler Forstoffer, a 5-10, 255-pound junior, is the starter at center.

“Not only are the linemen big, but they’re strong,” Rod Steele said. “We’re going to be able to move some people.”

The main beneficiary of all that beef up front is senior running back Tyrelle Olgetree, a fourth-year starter and younger brother of former West Mifflin running back great Jimmy Wheeler. Olgetree is receiving interest from Division II and III programs.

“Being a senior, we’re looking for good things from Tyrelle,” said his coach. “He’s bigger and stronger, and he’s humble.”

Other returning skill position players for the Titans include senior QB/DB Tayshawn McMillan, junior RB Delron White, junior FB Delrico White and senior WRs Peyton Yuhas and TyJier Williams, who suffered a season-ending injury in Week Zero in 2021.

“We lost both White twins early last year to season-ending injuries,” Steele said. “They are very strong kids and are throwback players. They are two physical specimens on both sides of the ball.”

McMillian (6-1, 180) is a three-year starter with Division II and III interest at this time. He also plays cornerback.

“I’m excited to see him play,” Steele said. “He’s a dual-threat quarterback, and he’s had a tremendous offseason. He’s gotten bigger and stronger. He did a great a job in our 7-on-7s this summer. He made good decisions with the ball.”

Top returning defensive players include, among others, Scott and junior Kejuan Shields at linebacker and senior safety Peyton Yuhas.

Yuhas (6-1, 210), who added 20 pounds to his frame in the offseason, will see action at wide receiver and as an H-back. He is being recruited by FCS and Division III colleges.

“We’re excited,” Yuhas said. “It’s been a long haul over the last couple of seasons. We’ve taken our lumps. We were young, but we remember. Every workout this offseason, we remind ourselves what we’ve been through.

“We’ve worked incredibly hard in the weight room, on our conditioning and in the film room. We are now a team of three- and four-year starters and a very close-knit group.”

Sophomore Rich Fix, who’s listed as a QB/RB, also could make an impact on offense.

“Rich is a playmaker,” Steele said.

Crousey will anchor the defense from his nose guard position.

“He’s the player I’m excited to see on defense,” Steele said. “He plays the game old school with attitude. He’s a good, hard-nosed kid. He loves the weight room. He’s just a strong kid. And he’s improved his footwork and agility; that’s what’s impressive.”

Crousey will be flanked on the D-line by Steele, Brown-Demery, Walker and at times Delron White as an edge rusher.

Yuhas, who started at strong safety in 2021, Delrico White and Fix are expected to solidify the Titans’ linebacking corps. Senior Todd Harrison also will see time at outside linebacker.

“Peyton Yuhas is a smart kid and a team leader,” Steele said. “He’s a three-year starter who will make the calls on defense. He’s done a tremendous job in the weight room and did a great job for us all summer.”

Yuhas is a three-sport athlete for the Titans, also competing in basketball and track.

“Our team’s strength is going to be our senior leadership,” Yuhas said, “but with that being said, our success will start and stop with the guys in the trenches. Our offensive and defensive lines will be our driving force and for anyone who doesn’t know, we will have one of the biggest front lines, if not the biggest, in all of 3A. As a middle linebacker on defense, they’ll make my job easier freeing me up to do what I do best and that is to hunt. Not just me, but the rest of us behind those guys. We’re excited to strap on the pads and get after it.

“Our defense is going to look a little different this year. Coach Steele asked me to take on the responsibility of moving to middle linebacker, Mike linebacker in particular. I’ve worked extremely hard to get myself up to 210 pounds to prepare my body for the wars ahead. I’m excited for the opportunity to call our defense and lead it to be the most feared in our classification.”

McMillan, Newby, Williams and Olgetree are expected to start in the secondary.

In all, West Mifflin has nine returning starters on offense and seven on defense. The Titans finished 1-5 in the Big Eight and 2-8 overall last season.

“We’re bigger, stronger and faster,” Steele said. “We should be all right as long as we stay away from injuries.”

West Mifflin opens the season with four former conference foes, going against McKeesport, Elizabeth Forward, Thomas Jefferson and Ringgold before jumping into league play Sept. 23 at Beaver.

West Mifflin

Coach: Rod Steele

2021 record: 2-8, 1-5 in Class 4A Big East Conference

All-time record: 294-305-12

SCHEDULE

Date, Opponent, Time

8.26 McKeesport, 7

9.2 at Elizabeth Forward, 7

9.9 Thomas Jefferson, 7

9.16 Ringgold, 7

9.23 at Beaver*, 7

9.30 at Avonworth*, 7

10.7 at Seton LaSalle*, 7

10.14 Quaker Valley*, 7

10.21 at Hopewell*, 7

10.28 South Park*, 7

*Conference game

STATISTICAL LEADERS

Passing: Tayshawn McMillan

Rushing: Tyrelle Ogletree

Receiving: Andre Spencer*

* Graduated

FAST FACTS

• Rod Steele led the Steel Valley football team to the PIAA Class AA championship and Max Preps Small School national championship with a 15-0 record in 2016. SV was the first team in state history to win every game in one season by the mercy rule.

• Steel was named Max Preps National Coach of the Year, Pittsburgh Steelers Coach of the Year and WPIAL AA Coach of the Year in 2016.

• Peyton Yuhas, who has a 3.8 GPA, is a pole vault specialist on the WM boys track team. He also used to compete in wrestling.

• The Titans’ special teams are bolstered by senior Nick Kosuda, an all-conference selection at punter and kicker last season.

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