McKeesport's Hill, TJ's Winovich, Costy chosen for Big 33 Football Classic
The flexbone offense at McKeesport received much of the credit for the Tigers' resurgence under coach George Smith, who returned to lead the football program to a 10-1 record after a three-year absence.
What Smith said didn't get enough attention was his team's defense, which led the WPIAL Quad East Conference with 14.3 points allowed per game and ranked fifth among 26 WPIAL Class AAAA schools.
Senior defensive lineman Jawan Hill earned a spot on the defense of the Pennsylvania team in the annual Big 33 Football Classic.
“I'm not really shocked. I've worked hard enough. It's a blessing,” Hill said Tuesday after he and two Thomas Jefferson players were among 15 from the WPIAL to be included on the state's roster.
Pennsylvania will face an all-star team from Maryland on June 15 at Hersheypark Stadium in Hershey. The Pennsylvania team was chosen by members of the Pennsylvania State Football Coaches Association.
“We sent them one highlight tape and one game tape,” Smith said of the 6-foot-2, 245-pound Hill. “The committee was very impressed with Jawan's technique.”
Thomas Jefferson linebacker Chase Winovich and offensive lineman Cole Costy also were included on the Pennsylvania roster. The much-celebrated Winovich is headed to Michigan, but Hill and Costy have yet to decide on a college.
The 6-4, 220-pound Winovich was a versatile player for Thomas Jefferson (11-1). He was recruited as a linebacker but also played quarterback and running back.
The 6-2, 265-pound Costy, at times, played both ways on the line for Thomas Jefferson, which outscored its opponents by an average of 39-8.
Smith lauded Hill for his toughness and determination on a McKeesport defense that saw him rotate to cover the opposition's strong side.
“He's not the biggest giant in the world, but he played like one,” Smith said. “He was the main guy in our defense. We wanted him to control the inside, and he did that phenomenally. Jawan is a great kid, a leader, a very good person.”
Just six players were designated as defensive linemen for Pennsylvania, with Hill and Mt. Lebanon's Alex Bookser — a Pitt recruit — the only ones from the WPIAL.
Smith said Hill hasn't been receiving much attention from Division I FBS schools but is a “top recruit” of FCS Duquesne and Division II California (Pa.), Indiana (Pa.) and Slippery Rock. Hill totaled 68 tackles as a senior and led McKeesport with 11 sacks among his 55 solo stops. He also deflected three passes.
Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.