LeViere leads host of returning players for North Hills
North Hills returns seven starters on offense and seven more on defense, but nobody is more eager to get on the field than Jordan LeViere.
The all-Quad North linebacker missed the final seven games last season after sustaining a torn ACL in his left knee.
"He's just as fast, and he's much stronger than he was," coach Jack McCurry said. "He's critical for us."
The 6-foot-2, 220-pound LeViere worked the leg back to full strength and leads an experienced North Hills team with legitimate WPIAL Class AAAA title hopes. The Indians are ranked No. 3 in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Preseason poll, behind No. 1 Woodland Hills and Gateway.
"This looks like the year," LeViere said, "right here."
LeViere's junior season ended with a knee injury in a Week 4 game against Seneca Valley.
The four-year starter received some knowing advice right away. Indians assistant coach Eric Kasperowicz tore his ACL as a sophomore at North Hills and again at Pitt. "Once it happened, he told me everything would be all right," LeViere said. "He had two of them. It's no big deal. He said I'd be back in no time. He pretty much walked me through the whole thing.
"As soon as I started therapy and nothing was hurting, I knew I would be OK."
LeViere arrived at camp even more imposing than the linebacker who led the team in tackles as a sophomore and was named second-team Quad North last year, despite playing in two conference games.
"He looks as good as ever," McCurry said. "Physically, he's probably better than he has been. It was a long, slow rehabilitation process. But he doesn't take days off. He does what he's supposed to do, and you can see the results."
North Hills quarterback Ryan Lehmeier also returns after an injury-hampered junior season. Lehmeier passed for 990 yards and eight touchdowns, and rushed for another 626 and nine touchdowns despite missing two games with a high ankle sprain. Lehmeier, a second-team all-Quad North pick, benefitted from a strong off-season.
"He's seen it all," McCurry said. "He's taken us to the playoffs two years in a row. He's been in big games. He's tasted victory and he's tasted defeat. He understands the difference in what we have to do. That's invaluable."
North Hills also returns leading rusher Connor Corcoran (777 yards, eight TDs), second-leading receiver P.J. Castellano and second-team all-Quad North defensive linemen Curt Yunk. Senior Brad Hill, a speedy wide receiver/defensive back, has opened eyes during training camp.
"We're real excited," Yunk said. "This could be the year."