East Xtra: Sophomore has an impact for Woodland Hills

After impressive freshman season, running back Miles Sanders is back and ready for more.

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It hasn't been a usual practice for veteran Woodland Hills coach George Novak to trust an underclassman with a starting job -- especially at running back.

Last year, Miles Sanders was the first freshman that Novak had start at that position in 26 seasons.

Sanders led the Woodland Hills rushing attack with 738 yards on 129 attempts with 12 scores in his rookie campaign.

"I take a lot of pride in what I do and I feel very lucky to have had this opportunity," Sanders said. "I know I'm one of the few to have had it and that makes me feel good."

Sanders returns 2 inches taller and nearly 15 pounds heavier than last year, putting him at 6 feet and 185 pounds.

"Miles looked much faster and stronger in camp this year," Novak said. "I'm looking forward to some of the things that he's going to accomplish this year. You can tell he has worked really hard to improve."

The sophomore, who also plays linebacker, said one of his main goals this year is to eclipse the 1,000-yard rushing mark.

"I came so close [freshman year]," Sanders said. "I'm going to have ample opportunities to get it this year, so I'm going to go out there and give it my all."

He'll have two fellow sophomores blocking for him on the offensive line.

"We're going to have the next three years to contend for championships together," he said. "That's something that I'm really looking forward to experiencing."

Sanders has already gotten interest from major college programs including Michigan, West Virginia and Pitt.

"He's handled all of the attention he's gotten in a very mature manner," Novak said. "By his actions, he always proves to me and this team that he is ready to play the roles that he's been called on to play so far."

Novak, who has coached six NFL players and won six WPIAL titles, doesn't feel that ordinary is a good way to describe Sanders.

"There's something very special about Miles," he said. "He doesn't play the game at a normal level, especially at his age. He has tremendous vision out there on the field. He can see a play as it's developing or a hole and he hits it hard. He's developed some really good skills, early on."

Sanders just enjoys being tough in the backfield.

"There's not many other words I can use to describe it," Sanders added. "When the ball is snapped, I like to hit the line of scrimmage and go. There is nothing like running the ball as hard as I can."

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