Another season, another success.
That’s been the template for Upper St. Clair football for most of its 54 years of existence. And at the helm for the majority of those has been Jim Render, whose 355 victories make him the third-winningest head coach in Pennsylvania history and ranks No. 2 among active coaches in the state.
Tonight, he looks to add to his total of 355 wins as the Panthers open the season by hosting Woodland Hills, a new addition to the WPIAL Class AAAA Southeastern Conference. Leading the Wolverines are Alex Beasley and Jawan Turner, both first-team all-conference players last season.
Upper St. Clair played in the WPIAL championship game in 2011, dropping a 28-21 heartbreaker to North Allegheny.
The Panthers, 11-2 overall, made it to Heinz Field by winning the semifinal against Pittsburgh Central Catholic. What made that victory particularly encouraging was the performance of Pete Coughlin, subbing for injured quarterback Dakota Conwell.
With Conwell, who topped 1,000 yards each in passing and running last year, having graduated, Coughlin, a senior, steps into the starting role.
Fans will see if it’s business as usual for the Panthers, which are ranked as the seventh most consistent high school football program in the state based on MaxPreps Computer Top 25 rankings dating back to 2004.
Some of the tougher conference games this year might come against Penn Hills on Sept. 21, at Bethel Park on Oct. 12 and wrapping up the regular season against Mount Lebanon on Oct. 26.
The Panthers travel to Canon-McMillan for the season’s second game on Friday, Sept. 7.