Woodland Hills still running with the big dogs in Class 5A

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Friday, August 12, 2022 | 11:01 AM


Woodland Hills could’ve dropped down two classifications this season because of a statewide change in how enrollment numbers are counted, but the Wolverines declined.

Instead of joining smaller schools in Class 3A, Woodland Hills voluntarily stayed in 5A.

“To me, us going to 3A is almost like a slap in the face,” said Woodland Hills’ Tim Bostard, entering his fifth season as coach. “We’re still competitive in 5A, so why should we drop down two classifications? I understand enrollment numbers, but I’m all about competition.”

The players liked that decision, too.

“It’s been that way always, so the players thought, why switch now?” senior lineman Kellen McDonough said. “We might as well play up to the competition.”

Woodland Hills went 3-2 in conference play last season, came within a touchdown of reaching the WPIAL semifinals and returns a promising roster with Division I talent, so it’s staying put with the big schools.

“You sort of have a double-edged sword there,” Bostard said of joining 3A. “If you win, you’re supposed to win. If you lose, how did you lose?”

The Wolverines return around six starters on each side of the ball from a team that went 5-7 overall. That list includes all-conference running back Brandon Jones, a number of linemen and almost the entire defensive secondary.

Gone is quarterback Deontae Williams, the team’s leading rusher as a senior. Without him, Jones, a junior who rushed for 548 yards, will see an increased workload.

“We’re looking for him to have a couple of more carries this year,” Bostard said. “We split carries last year with a senior. We’ll see what he can do.”

Up front, the Wolverines have size. McDonough (6-foot-5, 260 pounds) is a three-year starter with offers from Robert Morris, Duquesne, Navy and Indiana State. Mejaun Rose (6-5, 283) is a junior with Akron and Kent State offers. A third lineman, junior Pierce Cannon (6-5, 300), has Akron, Kent State and Syracuse offers.

Seniors LeAnthony Smith (6-0, 260) and Tyre Young-Grimes (5-10, 267) both started on the offensive line.

“We’ve got some big boys on the line this year,” McDonough said. “I think it’s going to be one of our strong suits for sure.”

Returning at defensive back are seniors Noah Hutcherson and DeVaughn McClinton, junior Steve Jenkins and sophomore Amere Brown. McClinton is a three-year starter. Hutcherson earned first-team all-conference honors, and McClinton and Brown made second team.

Brown, who started as a freshman, is one of the team’s young stars. Two more freshmen could make an impact this season.

Freshman quarterback Cam Walter (6-2, 175) is competing with senior Austin Wells for the starting job. Another freshman, William “Scoop” Smith, is a 5-foot-6 defensive back and slot receiver who received a D1 basketball offer from Stony Brook in July.

“They’re only freshmen, but they’re probably going to make a splash early on within the first four weeks,” Bostard said. “I’m a firm believer that if (a freshman) is the best kid, we’re going to play him.”

Woodland Hills is still in Class 5A, but the team will join a different conference this season. The WPIAL shifted the Wolverines from the Big East to the Northeast, making them the southern-most team in that conference.

The team has the players to compete, but Bostard said the decision to stay in 5A was about more than wins and losses.

From an athletic administration perspective, Woodland Hills expects to draw bigger crowds in 5A and likely has shorter road trips. Gateway and Penn Hills are among its neighbors and both play in 5A.

“When you have rivalries that are that close to you, your kids grow up playing against each other and that’s what you want to do,” Bostard said. “How many people are going to travel 45 minutes to the Wolvarena on a Friday night to watch a football game?”

Woodland Hills

Coach: Tim Bostard

2021 record: 5-7, 3-2 in Class 5A Big East Conference

All-time record: 263-136-0

SCHEDULE

Date, Opponent, Time

8.27 William Penn, 2:30-c

9.2 at Gateway, 7

9.9 at Penn-Trafford, 7:30

9.16 North Hills*, 7

9.23 Norwin, 7

9.30 Shaler*, 7

10.7 Highlands, 7

10.14 at Fox Chapel*, 7

10.21 at Pine-Richland*, 7

10.28 Penn Hills*, 7

c-at Chambersburg

*Conference game

STATISTICAL LEADERS

Passing: Deontae Williams*

41-78, 498 yards, 3 TDs

Rushing: Williams*

150-736, 11 TDs

Receiving: Jean Edmundson*

12-216, 1 TD

FAST FACTS

• The team’s Week Zero opener is part of the Chambersburg Peach Bowl, a multi-game showcase organized in the middle of the state by former Woodland Hills athletic director Ron Coursey.

• The Wolverines have called three different conferences home in recent years. They were in the Allegheny Eight in 2018-19, the Big East in 2020-21 and now the Northeast for 2022-23.

• Coach Tim Bostard is 18-24 in four seasons with three playoff appearances.

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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