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Woodland Hills lineup a complete overhaul

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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Woodland Hills' Asheed Jones competes at a seven-on-seven tournament July 23, 2016, at Pine-Richland.
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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Woodland Hills' Jalen Hollerway competes at a seven-on-seven tournament July 23, 2016, at Pine-Richland.
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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Woodland Hills' Asheed Jones competes at a seven-on-seven tournament July 23, 2016, at Pine-Richland.
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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Woodland Hills' Daniel Jones competes at a seven-on-seven tournament July 23, 2016, at Pine-Richland.
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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Woodland Hills' Avram Abramovitz competes at a seven-on-seven tournament July 23, 2016, at Pine-Richland.

Woodland Hills played in the WPIAL Class AAAA semifinals in 2015, but this season, they will start the year having to replace 32 seniors lost to graduation.

Coach George Novak’s first order in the summer was to replace every starter on offense and all but two on defense.

“We knew coming into the season we had our work cut out for us,” he said. “But we have a good group of underclassmen who showed they were committed in the weight room and conditioning … so we’re excited but there are a lot of new names in the lineup.”

The Wolverines lost quarterback Daron Cooper, running backs Jo-El Shaw and Miles Sanders and receiver Jaymond Dunn, who combined for 54 touchdowns last year. Novak knows replacing their production will not be easy, but he is excited at the prospect of younger players stepping up.

Toledo recruit Saeed Holt will assume his role of linebacker where he had 10 sacks last season. Holt also will see time in the backfield.

Derrick Caraway, Novak said, is one of the best athletes on the team. He started at cornerback last year and will do so again, in addition to a slot receiver role.

Juniors Mike Whiteherse and Dan Jones and sophomores Israel Reed and Gavin Judson are vying for the quarterback position.

“I think you always try to put one of your better athletes at quarterback, and he has to be a leader and know how to follow instructions and do the right thing on the field,” Novak said. “These four guys are competing; they’re developing. Everything is just dependent on how hard they work for it.”

Despite the overhaul, Novak said expectations will not change — be competitive in the conference and vie for a playoff spot.

“It’s a unique position for us to be in when you look at the roster on paper and what we’re going to try to get accomplished,” he said. “This type of thing doesn’t worry us. We know we have a lot of talent out there and you may not recognize their name, but I am confident they’ll be known toward the end of the season.”

Avram Abramovitz, Naszhir Taylorde, Deonte Robertson and Jaquan Smith are expected to be contributors on offense. Defensively, Novak expects Asheed Page-Jones to be one of the better middle linebackers in the WPIAL. Mike McAllister, Ramon Childs and John Robinson will anchor the line.

“I won’t deny it, but we know this year is going to be a big challenge for us,” Novak said. “But we know we’ll be competitive, and I know by the end of the season we’ll be in the race.”

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