From soccer goalkeeper to 2-way football player, Jeannette senior does it all in the fall

Wednesday, August 17, 2022 | 4:35 PM

Making up for lost time he can’t get back, Mitchell Steele III plans to give everything he has to his senior football season at Jeannette.

It’s all or nothing for the two-sport athlete who regrets not donning shoulder pads sooner in his high school career.

“Man, I wish I had played my freshman and sophomore years,” Steele said. “I wish I could re-class. But I can’t (dwell on that). I know I have to do something big this year.”

“Trey” is his nickname, but Steele has played a lot more than three positions. A soccer goalkeeper who initially was rounded up to be a kicker, the 6-foot, 197-pound Steele took a tour of the offense and defense last year.

Mostly out of necessity, he played tight end, right tackle, middle linebacker, safety and defensive end.

This year, while nothing is etched in stone, he is primed to line up at right tackle and defensive tackle.

And he will remain the kicker and punter for the Jayhawks, who are coming off a rare, down season that saw them win just one game (1-9).

“They needed me to kick; the coaches recruited me,” Steele said. “One thing led to another and all of the sudden, I’m at tight end, safety, all over the place.”

Steele said last season is fading fast in the team’s rearview mirror. New coach Tom Paulone and a young staff have brought a positive vibe while they try to patch cracks in the foundation of the WPIAL’s winningest program (767 wins).

“We don’t even think about that,” he said of 2021 when Jeannette’s lone win was a 28-7 victory over Riverview. “Yes, we took a big hit. But the new staff has us on the right path.

“Our goal is to prove people wrong.”

Paulone immediately saw Steele as a natural leader.

“He is one of the guys who attracted me to taking this job,” Paulone said. “He is a leader, and he brings things you can’t coach. He’s one of our pillars.”

The most interchangeable piece in Paulone’s puzzle, Steele could move around even more.

“With situational football, who’s to say you’re locked into what you have?” Paulone said. “I know our line coach, Jose Estevez, embraced the challenge of working with him on the line. But who knows where he might play as the season goes on and things happen.”

A sports medicine student in the school’s vocational and technical education training program, Steele said he gets his competitive drive from his father, Mitchell, who played football at Jeannette before attending St. Francis (Pa.).

“He didn’t push me to do anything,” the younger Steele said. “I always talk to him about football and he helps me with everything off the field.”

The 2022 fall season will once again be a delicate balance for Steele, who has high hopes for the soccer team. The Jayhawks are playing up in Class 2A after making the Class A playoffs last year.

“The coaches work with (athletic director) Adrian (Batts) to figure out a practice schedule that can work for me,” Steele said. “Last year, there were many days when I would leave football practice and head up the hill to soccer camp. I enjoy doing both sports.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at or via Twitter .

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