Woodland Hills, North Hills square off for WPIAL AAAA title
The players on the Woodland Hills football team talked about one topic on the bus ride home following their 7-0 victory at North Hills last month.
It wasn't Ryan Mundy's spectacular catch for the game's lone touchdown or Chris Morgan's 187 rushing yards or a shutout on defense.
They spoke about a bald, white dude.
"He was so good that we weren't even talking about the win," said Mundy, an All-America defensive back. "We were just talking about him."
North Hills senior linebacker Bill Lamb, who had 19 tackles in that game, and Mundy have dominated a lot of conversations this year.
Two of the best defensive players in western Pennsylvania will square off when Woodland Hills (11-0) plays North Hills (9-3) for the WPIAL Class AAAA championship at Heinz Field.
Mundy is considered one of the nation's elite prep defensive backs and has a short list that includes Michigan, Pitt and Penn State. He will play next month in the Army All-America Bowl in Texas.
Lamb is the all-time leading tackler at the school that produced LaVar Arrington, and his 19-tackle effort against Woodland Hills at Martorelli Stadium was arguably the greatest individual defensive effort of the season. The Lamb-led defense has allowed an average of 6.3 points and 55 rushing yards in playoff victories over Fox Chapel, North Allegheny and Penn Hills.
But the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Lamb is judged too light to play major-college linebacker. He hasn't received any Division I scholarship offers.
North Allegheny coach Jim Rankin believes Lamb can play major college football.
"He has speed and height," Rankin said. "He covers a lot of ground and he does a great job laterally against the run. He's one of the better linebackers in Quad A and he will be a good college linebacker."
When Mundy talked to the Georgia Tech recruiters this week, they learned Woodland Hills was playing North Hills in the finals. The coaches asked about Lamb. Mundy gave the senior linebacker a glowing review.
"Bill Lamb is a beast," Mundy told them.
Mundy sells himself. He is a shut-down defensive player. He provides run support at safety, yet can cover any receiver in the WPIAL in single coverage. He was a key reason that North Hills managed only 80 total yards in the 7-0 loss to Woodland Hills.
"We worked real hard taking away some things that they do really well," Woodland Hills coach George Novak said.
Both players make significant impacts on offense. They are the leading receivers on their teams.
Lamb, a starting tight end, has 18 catches for 342 yards and two touchdowns.
Mundy, a starting wide receiver, has caught 26 passes for 613 yards — a 23.6 yard per catch average — and 11 touchdowns.
Mundy caught the potential game-tying touchdown in the 2000 WPIAL title game, but the extra point failed and Mt. Lebanon escaped with a 14-13 victory.
The disappointment of that game motivated the Wolverines. They haven't lost to a WPIAL team since then, winning 24 in a row.
"After we lost, I was devastated," Mundy said. "It was like the end of the world for me. I said, 'Never again.' "
Mundy is one of only a handful of returning starters for Woodland Hills. The Wolverines have overcome the loss of superstar Steve Breaston to move to No. 1 in the state and No. 3 in the nation. They can win their third WPIAL title in four years and can join Mt. Lebanon, North Hills and Upper St. Clair as the only programs with more than two WPIAL Class AAAA titles.
"We're a different type of team," Novak said. "I'm extremely proud of them."
For sure, North Hills won't be able to sneak up on Woodland Hills.
"We know what they are capable of," Mundy said. "Now that we've played them, we can go on those experiences."