USC hopes for repeat performance
Upper St. Clair senior running back/linebacker Grant Serdy knows how it feels to win a championship.
So do linebacker Brett Scheller, flanker Adam Chrissis and defensive back Dan Miller.
They are Upper St. Clair's four returning starters who played a big part in last year's WPIAL and PIAA Class AAAA championship season.
The quartet of seniors is presented with a new challenge this season, though -- to try to lead this year's team, which includes a large number of inexperienced players.
"Only four people got to experience (winning the titles)," Serdy said. "That's what we have to impress upon the other kids, how great that was, how big of a deal that was, let them know how much fun it is to get there and what it means."
Upper St. Clair coach Jim Render said last year's 16-0 season, more than anything, was a learning experience for the returning starters and newcomers.
"We talk and try to learn from the positive things that happened," Render said. "It's kind of a bad news-good news situation. The bad news is that we graduated 25 guys that had a lot to do with us winning the state championship. Having said that, everybody has graduation.
"Now, the good side of this is that we feel that we have a lot of underclassmen who practiced for 18 weeks against some very talented kids. I like to look at it as their time has now come."
Render's teams have responded differently in the year following a WPIAL championship season. The Panthers' title in 1992 was the start of a run in which Upper St. Clair made the championship game in '93, '94 and '95, but it lost in each of those three games.
"Everyone's trying to put last season out of their minds right now and look forward to this season so we can hopefully make it to Heinz Field again this year," Scheller said. "One of the main things we have to do is make sure no one is thinking: since last year we won, this year, we'll win for sure. We have to make sure everybody knows that we have a (title) to defend."
Upper St. Clair PanthersConference: Class AAAA - Quad West
Coach: Jim Render
Players to watch: Grant Serdy, RB; Brett Scheller, LB; Adam Chrissis, WR.
Fast fact: Render's teams have responded differently in the year following a WPIAL championship season. The Panthers' title in 1992 was the start of a run in which Upper St. Clair made the championship game in 93, 94 and 95, but lost in each of those three contests.