Following in the footsteps of brothers Ben and Henry, Upper Dublin's Max Winebrake is a linebacker with solid tackling skills and natural instincts.
"Both of them taught me a lot, especially when it comes to reading plays and fighting off blocks," Winebrake said.
Two years ago, Max filled in for an injured starter down the stretch and, playing alongside Henry, helped the Cardinals go 14-1, claim the PIAA District 1 Class 4A championship, and advance to the state semifinals before losing to Parkland.
Henry Winebrake (class of 2016) is now a sophomore linebacker at the University of Chicago. Ben (2013) was a defensive lineman at Carnegie Mellon.
With Max Winebrake serving as the defensive anchor, fifth-seeded Upper Dublin will visit top-seeded and undefeated Springfield (Delco) in a District 1 Class 5A semifinal at 7 p.m. Friday.
Winebrake has registered a team-high 145 tackles, including 43 solo stops, in 11 appearances. The 5-foot-10, 180-pound senior posted 18 tackles, with six solos, in last week's 17-12 defeat of fourth-seeded Academy Park.
"He's in on just about very tackle," Cardinals coach Bret Stover said. "He's a hard worker, a regular film studier, and well respected by his teammates."
Upper Dublin has succeeded this year despite returning only two starters on both sides of the ball and losing two-way tackle Quinton Derr early on due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
"A lot of people wrote us off, which is not an uncommon thing," Stover said. "Actually, we prefer it that way. It makes us play that much harder."
The Cardinals' Malik Bootman has rushed 186 times for 1,298 yards and 21 touchdowns. "He's strong, he's smart, he has good vision, and he'll get four or five yards after contact," Winebrake said.
Julian Gimbel has connected on 80 of 155 passes for 1,058 yards and six scores. The first-year starter has targets in wideouts Ryan Besachio, Jack Jamison, and Selvin Haynes.
An improving line is made up of center Nate LaSorsa, guards Chris McDermott and Brian Derr, tackles C.J. Stehli and Connor English, and end Brody Balasa.
In addition to Winebrake, a 3-4 defense has been keyed by linemen Adam Jefferson-Jones and Chris Smith, linebackers Bootman and Nick Sowers, cornerback Haynes, and safeties Anthony Cerminara and Mike Slivka.
The unit has to be at its best against a Springfield offense that averages 34.1 points and has dangerous playmakers in Ja'Den McKenzie, QB Jack Psenicka, and receiver Kyle Long.
The 6-1, 200-pound McKenzie has carried 152 times for 1,126 yards and 16 TDs; Psenicka has thrown for 1,753 yards and 17 scores; and Long has 55 catches for 796 yards and seven TDs.
Winebrake, who sometimes fills in at fullback, is a midfielder in lacrosse. The 17-year-old from Oreland plans to major in engineering in college.
Game at a Glance
Upper Dublin (8-3) at No. 5 Springfield (12-0), Friday at 7 p.m.
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Consistent: The Cardinals' Malik Bootman had six consecutive 100-yard rushing games during the regular season.
Stalwarts: The Cougars' offensive line features center Justin Shields, tackle Dan Pennestri, guards Derek Strain, and end Kevin Deal.
Another option: Upper Dublin can also turn to halfback Lucas Roselli, who has rushed for 426 yards and six scores.
Towing the line: Springfield's defensive front includes tackles Shields and Pennestri and ends Strain and Deal.
Pick: Springfield, 27-10.