Upper St. Clair
Jim Render is a high school coaching legend who has built quite the powerhouse in the South Hills even though the Panthers haven’t always been blessed with as many highly recruited players as the teams they’ve routinely competed with in Class AAAA over the years.
But Render’s teams thrive on being more physical, more disciplined and better coached than most of their opponents and that’s why the Pennsylvania Coaches Hall of Famer has been able to guide them to five WPIAL titles and a record of 384-130-4.
Render, who enters his 38th season in coaching, is third among active coaches in Pennsylvania in career wins and 17th among active coaches on that list nationally.
But even the best programs have off years and the Panthers are coming off a disappointing season in which they finished 5-5 and were blasted in the first round of the playoffs, 49-0, by Central Catholic.
This should be a bounce back year for the Panthers, though, as they have a lot of returning starters on both sides of the ball and they have one of the best offensive lines in Class 5-A.
They are also helped by the fact that two of their chief nemesis over the past few years – North Allegheny and Central Catholic – are both in 6-A so they won’t have to face either.
Still, they are in a tough conference with West Allegheny, North Hills and Woodland Hills so they will have their hands full if they want to win the title but they should be battle tested once they get into the playoffs.
Although Render is one of the best coaches in the history of the WPIAL, he has also had a lot of great players to build his teams around and this year should be no exception.
The best of the bunch is also the biggest of the bunch – 6-foot-6, 280-pound senior tackle Gabe Houy, who made a verbal commitment to Pitt over offers from Wake Forest, Cincinnati and Maryland.
Fri. 9/2 vs North Hills 7:30p
Fri. 9/9 vs Moon Area 7:30p
Fri. 9/16 @ Baldwin 7p
Fri. 9/23 vs Fox Chapel 7:30p
Fri. 9/30 @ Chartiers Valley 7:30p
Fri. 10/7 vs West Allegheny 7:30p
Fri. 10/14 vs McKeesport 7:30p
Fri. 10/21 @ Hampton 7p
Fri. 10/28 @ Woodland Hills 7p