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Winovich switch vital to TJ success

| Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, 8:55 p.m.
South Hills Record
Thomas Jefferson's Chase Winovich.

The Thomas Jefferson football team beat Ringgold, 41-14, in its 2012 season opener.

In Week 2, the Jaguars narrowly escaped with a 21-19 win at Elizabeth Forward.

Following that close call, the TJ coaching staff decided to make a personnel move.

Chase Winovich, a 6-foot-4, 200-pound junior, moved from his safety position — where he had started as a sophomore — to inside linebacker.

The Jaguars haven't looked back, reeling off eight overpowering victories in a row including last week's 63-19 shellacking of Hollidaysburg last week in the first round of the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs.

In the regular season, Winovich led the team in tackles with 45, including 39 unassisted stops, with four fumble recoveries and five sacks.

“We've found a spot for him, that's for sure. He's been getting better and better every week,” Bill Cherpak, Thomas Jefferson's head coach, said. “He can cover the whole field, he can run, and he has size. He's a football player.”

Winovich joined junior Austin Boyd at inside linebacker, while senior linebacker Derek Toboz switched from inside to outside. He was united with Colton Booher, a senior, on the outside, and Zach Talley, a junior, took over at safety.

The fiery Winovich has been a catalyst in the Jaguars' impressive defensive effort this season. Since the Elizabeth Forward game, the Jaguars have allowed only 55 points (7.9 ppg) and has posted two shutouts.

“(Chase) is aggressive, and he will make plays. He puts pressure on the other team,” Cherpak said. “He likes to create havoc in the backfield.”

Never was that more evident than in the recent Big Nine Conference championship game at TJ Stadium.

The Jaguars defeated rival West Mifflin, 28-14, as Winovich was credited with a team-high 12 tackles, including 11 unassisted stops, with one sack.

He surely is looking forward to providing the Jaguars with a sterling performance on possibly an even bigger stage — Heinz Field in the WPIAL finals — on Thanksgiving Day weekend.

Ray Fisher is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5820 or rfisher@tribweb.com.

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