Five area athletes were named to the Pennsylvania Football Writers All-State football team.
Peters Township defensive back Donovan McMillon and linebacker Corban Hondru lead the list.
They garnered the distinction for the second year in a row.
The pair guided the Indians to a third straight conference title and a second consecutive WPIAL Class 5A championship appearance. Peters Township lost to Cole Spencer and his Pine-Richland Rams 35-0 in that final. Spencer, who accumulated 2,928 offensive yards in leading the Rams to a state title was named the all-state player of the year.
Peters posted an 8-1 overall record and finished 5-0 in the Allegheny Six Conference.
While Hondru played every skill position on offense, including tight end and quarterback, and excelled as a punter with a 35.7 yard average, he started four years at linebacker as the Indians mounted a 37-10 record during his tenure. He racked up 234 tackles and 26 sacks.
This fall, Hondru ranked first on the team in sacks with eight and second in tackles with 53. The 6-1, 225-pound senior recovered two fumbles, supplied five tackles for a loss and managed two safeties.
“Making all-state this year was amazing,” said Hondru, who will play college football at Miami (Ohio). “It’s a great honor and a great way to end my high school career.
“To be included on that list with all the other amazing athletes means a lot to me. I wouldn’t be in the position I am now without the coaches, trainers, teammates and my family.”
McMillon thanked especially Peters Township head coach T.J. Plack and the entire coaching staff for believing in him.
McMillon led the Indians in tackles this season with 57. He had one sack and a tackle for loss.
He also averaged 33.2 yards per return on special teams this season and returned one kick-off for a 96-yard touchdown. He also ranked second on the Indians’ offense with 17 receptions for 301 yards and three touchdown.
“Being selected to the all-state team is the ultimate icing on the cake to my scholastic career,” McMillon said. “I am honored to be thought of as one of the best defensive players in the state.
“This award will hopefully catapult me into even greater achievements,” he added.
Rated the No. 15 safety in the country, McMillon selected the University of Florida among his multiple offers as his college choice. Currently, he is in Gainesville preparing for the spring academic semester and his career with the Gators.
South Fayette’s Charley Rossi gained all-state acclaim as a wide receiver. The 5-8, 175-pound senior parlayed his skills into the academic freshman class of 2022 at Princeton University.
Although he was selected as an all-conference defensive back, Rossi finished his career among the Lions’ all-time reception leaders. He pulled in 49 catches for 727 yards for South Fayette, which finished 4-4 overall. He rolled up 2,156 career receiving yards and 21 touchdown grabs.
“To be selected to the all-state team is an honor,” said Rossi. “I couldn’t have done this without the support of my teammates, coaches and family. It definitely motivates me moving forward.”
Justin Caputo joined his South Fayette teammate on the all-state squad. The 5-11, 180-pound junior from Bridgeville gained distinction as a kicker.
Caputo averaged 47 yards per kickoff and 34.1 yards per punt. He connected on all 23 of his extra points and is 81 of 85 for his career. He was 4-for-5 in his field goal attempts.
Ethan Dahlem from Upper St. Clair rounded out the list of local players named to the all-state squad. The 5-10, 175-pound senior was a dual-threat at quarterback.
“This achievement means a lot because it shows the work I put in is finally paying off,” said Dahlem. “All the countless hours on the field and in the weight room is working. All my coaches and teammates these past few years have helped me become a better person and player. I owe them as well as my family for always pushing me to the limit each and every day. When both are pushing you, then you are bound to get recognized in the long run.”
Dahlem completed 114 of 188 passes for 1,567 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2020. He also rushed for a team-high 385 yards and five touchdowns. In two seasons, he accounted for 5,121 yards of offense, throwing for 3,785 and 31 touchdowns, while rushing for 1,336 and 20 touchdowns.
The all-state accolade, however, does not “cap” his career. Dahlem still has basketball to play before weighing in on his college football choice, which include some FCS schools. Dahlem has been a two-year starter at point guard for the Panthers, who reached the WPIAL semifinals and the PIAA quarterfinals last winter.
“Hopefully, we can get a ring or two and I can definitely add to my high school career but all-state in football solidified my football career at USC,” said Dahlem. “I would do anything to go back. There is nothing like those Friday night lights. Nothing gets better than that, especially Western PA football.”