Upper St. Clair football coach Jim Render only 1 win away from 400

September 25, 2018
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Peters Township's Josh Casilli runs the ball when Peters Township faced off against West Toronto Prep at Wolvarena, Friday, August 24, 2018.

Upper St. Clair coach Jim Render discussed plenty of numbers with his football players during camp, but 400 wasn’t one of them.

The winningest coach in WPIAL history entered this season two victories away from becoming the first with 400 career wins. After a season-opening win last week, Render could reach the mark Friday night when Peters Township visits Upper St. Clair.

Render may not have discussed 400, but his players already were keeping count.

“For sure,” said linebacker Colin McLinden, a four-year starter, who was excited that his senior class could help Render reach the mark. “That’s a milestone he’ll remember forever.”

Hearing that his team was counting to 400, Render smiled and shrugged.

“Well, that’s very nice of Colin to say that,” Render said. “From my standpoint, we’ve never talked about it. ... I want their memory bank to be about the season and what they have accomplished. I don’t really want to be the focus.”

Still, 400 is a feat worth celebrating.

According to Maxpreps, only 17 active coaches in the entire country have 400 career wins. In the history of the WPIAL, Joe Hamilton and George Novak are the only other coaches to reach 300. Hamilton retired from Blackhawk after the 2014 season with 342. Novak retired from Woodland Hills in 2016 with 306.

“Maybe someday I will (celebrate),” Render said. “But if we go 2-8, how good am I going to feel?”

The Dover, Ohio, native started his head coaching career at Carrollton (Ohio) for two seasons and at Uniontown for seven. He arrived in 1979 at Upper St. Clair, where he’s now coached 40 seasons.

His career record is 399-138-6, but reaching 400 this week isn’t guaranteed.

Upper St. Clair opens its conference schedule Friday against a talented Peters Township team that defeated West Toronto Prep, 43-7, in Week Zero.

Kickoff is 7:30 at Upper St. Clair.

Peters scored 36 points in the first quarter last week with touchdowns from five different players. Junior running back Ryan Magiske finished the game with two touchdowns, while Gabe Maloni, Josh Casilli, Adrian Williams and Aiden McCall each scored once.

The young Indians finished the rout with added confidence, but now enter a tough stretch against Upper St. Clair, Woodland Hills and West Allegheny.

“We’ve got a three-game stretch here against pretty good teams,” Peters coach T.J. Plack said. “We’ll find out about ourselves in the next three weeks. Talk to me in 22 days.”

Upper St. Clair is coming off a 34-33 victory over South Fayette. USC quarterback Jason Sweeney passed for 275 yards and running back Antonio Orsini rushed for 173. David Pantelis had 132 yards on six receptions, and brother Chris Pantellis had 131 on six.

After facing Peter Township, Upper St. Clair visits Baldwin in Week 2 and Woodland Hills in Week 3.

Render said he’s contemplated retirement, but hasn’t pondered the idea too seriously.

“I’d be lying if I said I haven’t,” Render said. “Yes, I’ve thought about it. But on the other hand, Chuck Noll said one time, ‘If you start thinking about retirement, you already are.’ Chuck was a smart man, so I try not to dwell on that.”

Asked if there’s a chance this could be his last season, Render said: “We’ll see.”

“As long as my health’s good and I’m having fun,” he added, “then I’m not ready to tell people this is it.”

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