West Mifflin to rely on punishing ground attack

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Tuesday, August 24, 2021 | 6:01 AM


There are various ways to describe the West Mifflin football team.

One would be that the Titans are young and big. Or, on the other hand, they could be categorized as “big but young.”

“To be honest, we played a lot of young guys last year,” coach Rod Steele said. “And we’re fairly young this year. Our lines will average 274 or 286 pounds depending on who wins jobs in camp. Hopefully, they’ve gotten bigger and stronger in the offseason.”

After two games were postponed because of covid-19 protocols last season, West Mifflin finished 2-4 in the Class 4A Big Eight Conference and 2-4 overall.

The Titans, who had just a half-dozen seniors on last year’s team roster, believe they have the talent to dramatically improve on their 2020 record.

“We want to be a competitive football team,” Steele said. “We expect to win every time we step on the football field.

“We’re just young.”

Through the years, West Mifflin has run through opponents with a punishing ground attack, and hopes this year will be no different.

The rushing game is led by junior Tyrell Olgetree, a third-year starter and younger brother of former West Mifflin running back great Jimmy Wheeler.

Junior Tayshawn McMillan and freshman prospect Rich Fix are the Titans’ quarterbacks, with senior Jaimer Hill (FB/LB) also in the mix.

Other skill-position players to watch include seniors Israel Rose (RB/LB), Andre Spencer (WR/DB) and Tyreese Olgetree (WR/DB); juniors TyJier Williams (WR/DB) and James Fulmore (FB/DB); sophomore RB/LB twins DelRon and DelRicco White, and sophomore Carlos Scott (TE/LB).

Braeden Crousey, a 6-foot, 315-pound junior, is a second-year starter and third-year letterman. He will anchor the Titans’ line play.

“He plays the game old-school with attitude,” Steele said. “He’s a good, hard-nosed kid. He loves the weight room.”

Crousey will be complemented by sophomores Rico Steele (6-3 1/2, 305) and Braeden Walker (6-2, 245), senior Carson Novosel (6-1, 245) and junior Anthony Trunzo (6-0, 255) , with freshman Jaiden Demery (6-3, 305) also in the mix.

“My expectations are to have a great camp and come into the season a strong and hungry cohesive group,” Crousey said. “I see our strengths as our size up front and our speed in the skill positions.

“The majority of our team has grown up playing together through youth and middle school and now high school. This helps us truly understand each other and play to our strengths.”

Crousey is a regular fixture in the West Mifflin weight room. He has dropped 25 pounds from last year while adding more muscle to his large frame. Some of Crousey’s individual highlights include a 500-pound squat, 500-pound deadlift and 350-pound bench press.

“I feel at home in the weight room,” Crousey said. “I enjoy setting goals for myself and then achieving and surpassing them.”

Defensive catalysts for the Titans this season should emerge from, among others, Hill, at outside linebacker, sophomore linebackers Kejuan Shields and Scott, junior safety Peyton Yuhas and Walker, at end.

West Mifflin competes in the Class 4A Big Eight Conference. Thomas Jefferson, Belle Vernon and newcomer McKeesport finished in a tie for first in 2020.

“I’m extremely excited for this season,” Crousey said, “and I feel we have the right players and the right mindset to make noise in arguably the toughest conference in Pennsylvania.”

West Mifflin

Coach: Rod Steele

2020 record: 2-4, 2-4 in Class 4A Big Eight Conference

All-time record: 292-297-12

SCHEDULE

Date, Opponent, Time

8.27 at Chartiers Valley, 7

9.3 at South Fayette, 7

9.10 Elizabeth Forward, 7

9.17 Belle Vernon*, 7

9.24 at Laurel Highlands*, 7

10.1 Trinity*, 7

10.8 McKeesport*, 7

10.15 Hollidaysburg, 7

10.22 Ringgold*, 7

10.29 at Thomas Jefferson, 7

*Conference game

FAST FACTS

• West Mifflin was a WPIAL playoff qualifier for 10 consecutive years from 2010-19. The Titans advanced to the finals in 2012.

• Rod Steele is in his third year with the Titans. He previously coached for nine seasons at Steel Valley where he won WPIAL titles in 2017 and 2018 and a Class 2A state championship in 2017.

• Former Michigan State and Jeannette standout Demetrious Cox, who had a brief stint in the NFL, was an assistant at West Mifflin for half the 2020 season before signing with a CFL team. Cox also played in the rebooted XFL with the New York Guardians.

• Braeden Crousey is a cousin of West Mifflin detective Bill Crousey, the former hockey coach at Thomas Jefferson.

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