By Matt Popchock
George Novak is the first to admit he talks a lot. It doesn’t take much to turn the Woodland Hills head football coach into a raconteur.
Ever so humble, the man who has led the Wolverines to five WPIAL Class AAAA titles and almost got them a sixth last year will have more stories to tell after he catches up with longtime friend Bill Cherpak Friday evening.
Once upon a time, Cherpak was, as Novak put it, “one of the best linemen [he] ever coached” at Steel Valley, and a starter for the Ironmen when Novak guided them to district gold in 1982. The two eventually worked together, albeit briefly, at Woody High, then Cherpak became head coach at Thomas Jefferson, where he has won four WPIAL championships and three state crowns in Class AAA.
The longtime friends will meet for the first time as rival coaches at The Wolvarena to kick off the 2011 season, as Woodland Hills and Thomas Jefferson, two of the most dominant teams in western PA history collide. As far as Novak is concerned, the story of this game will simply be what he thinks he has to work with this season.
“Mr. High School Sports” caught up with Novak, who talked about how the team will look different offensively with outgoing senior Lafayette Pitts now suiting up for Todd Graham. He also gives us his take on what we can expect from the Wolverines’ defense, led by future D-1 linebacker and the school’s all-time leading tackler, Mike Caprara.
In addition, Novak breaks down the rest of the Big East Conference, not to mention the rest of the competition in Quad-A, and tells why kids who go to Woodland Hills, which has sent over one hundred players to Division I schools since the program’s inception in 1987, are so successful.
Kickoff for Friday’s game is at 7:00 on 93.7 The Fan, with Lanny Frattare and Bob Orkwis on the call. Pre-game coverage by our friends at the MSA Sports Network begins at 6:00, hosted by Don Rebel.
For more on this game, be sure to check out Mr. High School Sports’ Week 1 preview this Friday, as well as his live in-game blog Friday evening, on 937thefan.com.
(Follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/mpopchock)