Penn Hills defense piles up postseason awards

Friday, November 22, 2019 | 12:28 PM

Even though their season ended earlier than they expected, Penn Hills football players were well represented when it came to postseason honors.

The Indians (10-2, 7-0) saw their season end with a 35-20 loss to McKeesport in a WPIAL Class 5A quarterfinal Nov. 8.

However, 20 Penn Hills players and coach Jon LeDonne received Northern Conference all-conference honors from the Western Pennsylvania Big 56.

The Penn Hills secondary headlined the all-conference selections. Senior defensive backs Tony Grimes, Aakeem Snell and Dylan Bennett as well as junior defensive backs Dontae Pollard and Noel Roach were named to the first team.

“I appreciate all the coaches from the other teams recognized me for the way I played this year,” Roach said.

The secondary was the backbone of a Penn Hills defense that held its opponents to 14.0 ppg.

Grimes was a second-team pick and Snell and Bennett received honorable mention honors last year.

“It was what I expected after I put in all the hard work,” Grimes said. “If I didn’t make first team, I would’ve been very upset.”

Roach led the Indians with six interceptions. Grimes finished with three interceptions and two forced fumbles. Snell had three interceptions and one fumble recovery.

Pollard finished with two interceptions and was also the Indians’ leading receiver with 526 yards on 32 catches and six touchdowns.

“We knew the kind of talent we had in the secondary last year and when we would practice in 7-on-7,” Grimes said. “It pushed us every day, and we knew how good we had to be. We held a high standard for ourselves.”

Senior defensive end S’qy Featherstone, senior defensive tackle Derrell Porter and junior outside linebacker Jawann Brown were also selected to the first team for the Indians.

Brown led the team with 91 tackles and finished with three sacks. Featherstone had 86 tackles, four sacks, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.

Senior guard Rahmir Moore-Tucker was the only player on offense to earn first-team honors.

LeDonne was named conference coach of the year.

“Any time you receive recognition amongst your peers is always an honor,” LeDonne said. “Playing in our conference, there are a lot of great coaches in the conference with some old and mature coaches. To be appreciated and honored as a younger guy is always an honor.”

Senior running back Germar Howard, senior defensive end Donovan Carpenter and junior inside linebacker Cameron Hopkins received second-team all-conference honors. Senior quarterback Eddie McKissick was selected to the second team as a punter.

Howard led the Indians in rushing with 1,047 yards on 129 carries and nine touchdowns. McKissick threw for 1,560 yards, 17 touchdowns and four interceptions and rushed for 304 yards and six touchdowns.

Senior running back Arlon Thompson and defensive tackle Jamie Tigner, junior guard Damone Moultrie, tackle Claude Vangelus and kicker Jonah Silverman, and sophomore center Luke Pugliese received honorable mention honors.

LeDonne believes the loss to McKeesport can be a learning experience, as the Indians will look to win another WPIAL and PIAA title next season.

“Some of the guys, it was their first time in a big-time game with a second-round playoff game,” LeDonne said. “It was a learning experience in that they will learn to do their role and don’t try to play outside of your capabilities. We will use that as a learning tool all offseason.”


More Football

2024 Trib HSSN Preseason Football All-Star Team: McKeesport’s Kemon Spell
2024 Trib HSSN Preseason Football All-Star Team: Upper St. Clair’s Nate Stohl
2024 Trib HSSN Preseason Football All-Star Team: Bethel Park’s Ryan Petras
Knoch transfer Colt Sprankle earns postseason eligibility after PIAA board overturns WPIAL
Former Steelers assistant Dick LeBeau shares wisdom with group of legendary high school football coaches