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Winovich looking to find his place in TJ history

| Friday, Aug. 23, 2013, 2:06 a.m.

Chase Winovich still remembers trips to Hershey when he was a boy, watching the Thomas Jefferson football team win three PIAA championships in a five-year span.

Now the Michigan recruit enters his senior season without a WPIAL or PIAA championship to his credit. This doesn't sit well with the younger brother of former TJ star Pete Winovich.

“I remember sitting in the stands at those state championships,” he said. “Every time I sat there, I always was one of the last people to leave the stadium. I just always remember thinking to myself that winning a state title would be one of the coolest things ever.”

This is his final opportunity.

And, to hear coach Bill Cherpak talk about his team, Winovich might have a chance to realize his dream.

“I think this team has a chance to be really good, really special,” Cherpak said. “Chase is definitely a big part of that.”

Winovich will start at quarterback for the Jaguars. Michigan intends to use him at outside linebacker, though he will play inside linebacker this season.

He'll be the center of attention on both sides of the ball, and Winovich doesn't mind the pressure.

“Pressure is part of being a football player for TJ,” he said. “You're expected to be a championship team. That's just the way it is. You don't have any other option with Cherp. You always feel it. Personally, I like the pressure. My brother tells me stories of how he was so scared of losing his starting job at times. It's just the way it is.”

Winovich is ferocious and cerebral on defense, and Cherpak is a big believer in the senior's ability.

TJ has produced many stars over the past two decades, and Cherpak believes he compares favorably with all of them.

“He has gotten a lot of hype,” Cherpak said. “And he deserves it. He works hard to get better. He's just a heck of a football player.”

Winovich is modest when discussing his own football ability but isn't shy about predicting great things for his team.

TJ is blessed with a gigantic offensive and defensive line, and in particular, Winovich believes the Jaguars' defense could be special this season.

“I've never been more confident in a defense in all my life,” he said. “This defense is going to be scary. One of the best in the state. Honestly, I think it could be one of the best in the country. There's just a mix of talent that we bring to the table that I believe is unmatched in the state. Obviously, we need to prove it on the field. But we've got some crazy schemes for people and some great talent.”

Winovich is not only pleased with how his Jaguars are shaping up — he says he feels more comfortable at quarterback now than at any point — but also is delighted that he made the decision to verbally commit to Michigan early.

He has seen recruitments become distractions, and it left a bad taste in his mouth.

Focusing on championships is the only thing on Winovich's mind. His brother made it to Heinz Field, only to lose to Pine-Richland in the WPIAL championship game.

Winovich wants to taste victory at Heinz Field before finding his way back to Hershey, where he can realize his childhood dream.

“I think we can be a great team,” he said. “I can't wait to get started. I want to write my own piece of history.”

Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jyohe@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.

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