Team # 3 Upper St. Clair (7) 0-0
Written by: Josh Funk on Wednesday, August 31st, 2011
Jim Render’s Panthers were a missed two-point conversion away from sending their WPIAL AAAA quarterfinal game with North Hills to overtime after making a furious second-half rally at Chartiers Valley High School last November. So USC has itself a little bit of unfinished business after an 8-3 season, especially seeing the red and black didn’t win the Great Southern Conference championship thanks to archrival Mt. Lebanon’s 14-10 victory in Week Nine. That could change this year, as USC returns a solid nucleus from its 2010 team.
Two-way star Dakota Conwell, a Pitt recruit, returns as the Panther field general after amassing 2,001 yards of offense (1,085 rushing, 916 passing) and accounting for 23 total touchdowns (16 rushing, 7 passing) handling the reins of the Panthers’ single-wing/I offense which averaged 299.8 yards and 24 points per game. But Conwell, who was the only Panther to score more than 50 points last season, is far from the only piece returning to USC. Northwestern commits Ian Park and Jack Schwaba join returning two-way lineman Jake Radzuikinas (who holds FCS offers) to provide a nice nucleus in the trenches, and skill position players in Zach Dietrick (317 rush yards, TD), Matt Paxton (232 rush yards) and Mike Wilcox (12, 231, 1) add to the Panthers’ firepower.
Defensively, Conwell leads the way at linebacker (64 tackles, 3.5 sacks), and will be joined by Steve Gannon (54 tackles, 3 INT), Radzuikinas (42 tackles, 1 sack), Schwaba (25 tackles, 1.5 sacks), Paxton (19 tackles, 1 INT), Wilcox (18 tackles, 1 INT) and Rori Blair (15 tackles, 2.5 sacks). The USC defense (including reserves) allowed an average of 14.8 points per game. On special teams, Gannon averaged 36.7 yards per punt and Killian Mulkern converted 30 extra points and five field goals.
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