Having won City League titles three of the past four seasons and advancing all the way to the PIAA final a season ago, Westinghouse is clearly the class of the city these days.
“Westinghouse has done such a great job over the past few years,” University Prep coach Lou Berry said. “We know how that works. When you’re the champion, you’re the one that’s being hunted.”
That hunt will continue this season in the five-team league, with Berry’s team perhaps having the best chance to dethrone the reigning champions. Berry, though, knows it won’t come easy.
“My thing with that is, well, you better earn that right,” continued Berry. “Just don’t think you’re going to step on the field and it’s going to happen organically. You have to earn that.”
So, earn is what University Prep will attempt to do this season. The Panthers, who went 3-6 last season, are no stranger to winning championships. The school won three City League titles from 2011-16. There is hope for another title this season as the Panthers boast two of the league’s top playmakers, a promising quarterback, and a pair of excellent bookend tackles.
In Daniel “Boy Boy” Cain, University Prep has one of the fastest players and biggest gamebreakers in all of Western Pennsylvania. Cain, whose nickname was given to him by his mother when he was a baby, is a 5-foot-5, 150-pound senior wide receiver who was named all-City the past two seasons. Cain scored 11 touchdowns his junior season — five receiving, two rushing and four on returns (three kickoff and one punt).
“The thing with Daniel is, not only is he fast, but he knows how to apply it appropriately on the field because he has gears,” Berry said. “He can set you up where you think you have the angle and then he’ll just turn it on and use your speed against you. He just has that innate ability to make people miss.”
Teammate Xair Stevenson rarely misses any tackles. A 6-foot-2, 175-pound junior linebacker, Stevenson’s breakout sophomore season saw him rack up 78 tackles, five interceptions, two sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
“He’s going into his junior year, but he brings great leadership, strong work ethic and versatility as a receiver. And as a star linebacker, we can kind of move him all around. We’re going to try to use his athleticism in a variety of ways on defense,” Berry said.
Stevenson will also play wide receiver for University Prep, which gives quarterback Max Qureshi a pair of dynamic weapons. Qureshi is a 6-foot-4, 160-pound senior whom Berry expects to have a strong season. Looking to keep him upright is an offensive line headlined by senior tackle Trevor Weller and junior tackle Byron Clark. Weller is a three-year starter.
University Prep dropped three City League games last season — a pair of narrow losses against Allderdice (one coming in the City League semifinals) and a thumping from Westinghouse. University Prep and Westinghouse will tangle on Sept. 14.
Westinghouse’s remarkable season, which saw the Bulldogs go 14-0 before falling to powerhouse Southern Columbia in the PIAA final, was one of the best stories in all of the area last fall. The Bulldogs, coached by Donta Green, graduated many all-league performers from that team, among them quarterback Keyshawn Morsillo. But the cupboard of talent is far from bare. As far as big stars go, Kyshawn Robinson is next up. A 5-foot-10, 165-pound sophomore quarterback-defensive back, Robinson, a starting defensive back as a freshman, already has offers from Pitt, Penn State and Florida. Sophomore Lloyd Penn and senior Taymir O’Neal figure to be two of his top receivers. Senior tight end-defensive end Mike Richardson and senior lineman Raymon Poindexter were all-City League selections.
Allderdice has played for the City League title three years in a row, winning the championship in 2021. Last season, the Dragons fell to Westinghouse, 40-8, in the championship game. A talented senior class has now departed, but don’t count out the Dragons from marching back to the title game once again. Senior running back-defensive back Terrell James projects to be one of the top rushers in the league, and senior Braden Clark is a standout lineman.
Julian “JuJu” Walker hopes to lead Perry to a bounceback season after going 3-5 last year. Walker is a 5-foot-9, 195-pound senior running back-linebacker who could be one of the top rushers in the league this season.
Brashear will look a lot different this season, after the graduation of star players Ta’Mere Robinson, Kameron Cheatom and Shawn Solomon. The Bulls, who went winless last season, return senior quarterback Donovan Meadows.
Carrick will play as an independent for the fifth consecutive season. The Raiders went 2-7 last fall, its wins coming against WPIAL opponents Carlynton and Brownsville. Junior quarterback Zion Frye passed for 1,503 yards and also led the team in rushing.
Players to watch
Daniel Cain, University Prep, 5-7, 150, WR-DB, Sr. — Speedster is very difficult to catch and slow down. Four of his 11 touchdowns last season came on kick and punt returns.
Terrell James, Allderdice, 6-1, 195, RB-DB, Sr. — If the Dragons are to reach the City League final for a fourth year in a row, James will likely be the one to lead them there.
Mike Richardson, Westinghouse, 6-2, 195, TE-DE, Sr. — Richardson will once again be one of the key defenders for a team that is hoping to return to the PIAA title game.
Kyshawn Robinson, Westinghouse, 5-10, 160, QB-DB, So. — He’s “next up” at The House and in the City League. Already holds offers from Pitt, Penn State and others.
Xair Stevenson, University Prep, 6-2, 175, WR-LB, Jr. — “X” marks the spot where many opposing players are tackled. Collected 78 tackles and five interceptions in 2022.
Editor Rick Davis
Reporters Brad Everett, Steve Rotstein, John Santa, Rob Joesbury, Saul Berrios-Thomas
Photographers Emily Matthews, Steve Mellon
Art designer Jennifer Kundrach
Web designer Tyler Pecyna