After winless season, Hopewell driven to make statement
Tuesday, August 16, 2022 | 12:01 PM
Hopewell football comes into the 2022 season more motivated than ever. The players and the coaches want to prove they can play with anyone in the Western Hills conference.
Defensive lineman and tight end Sonny Kasanzale, a rising senior, wants to showcase his and the team’s talent.
“We’re so hungry man,” Kasanzale said. “We just want to prove people wrong, and we just want to shock the WPIAL. I want to go out there and really just beat on teams and just grind it out and win games this year.”
Kasanzale wants to reverse the results of last season. The Vikings went 0-9 with an 0-5 conference record.
“We hit rock bottom,” coach Matt Weiss said. “We didn’t win a single game and we struggled in all facets of the game, but the biggest thing is that we kept true to ourselves and stuck to our guns with what we believe our culture should be.”
Although the team struggled, there is a lot to look forward to for the Vikings in 2022. The team had four seniors on a roster with over 50 players last season.
The Vikings return nine seniors and 12 juniors. Weiss believes that the veteran presence will help propel the team to a new level of football. The senior class started and gained experience through the years.
“This year, this is a special group,” Weiss said. “Our seniors, pretty much every one of them, have been with us for the four years for this ride. They’ve stuck to it and kept true to who they are and they’re exhibiting what our program is.”
Kasanzale, wide receiver/defensive backs Matt Essay and Cam Fedorka and lineman Greg Barlion bring experience to the Vikings.
Kasanzale and Fedorka were leaders on the team as juniors. Kasanzale finished with 24 tackles and 1.5 sacks. Fedorka finished with 15 tackles, notched a fumble recovery and blocked a kick.
Fedorka loves the plethora of players that are returning this year. He believes chemistry will help the team muster wins and will lead to a successful season.
“It’s very important because most of the players are still here,” Fedorka said. “We’ve been playing together our whole lives, so we have that bond and that connection. We still have players that are stepping up from last year that learned and gain experience getting in the game because they were freshmen last year.”
Weiss and the team remember last season, but they know it’s only up from where they were. He and the team all were motivated to improve together.
“We all took a reflection the offseason, myself included,” Weiss said. “Where can we get better? What can I get better as a coach, as a mentor? And our players, where can they improve? And they put it together this offseason. We’ve had a very, very good offseason that I’m happy with.”
The No. 1 thing the team did to have a successful summer camp was stressing a positive attitude. Kasanzale and the team knew the importance of keeping the team on the same page.
“If you’ve got a group of guys that are very positive, that’s step one,” Kasanzale said. “You’ve got to be positive, you have to be open-minded, and you have to want to play. The X’s and O’s, learning different things and with performance, that will come, but first things first, we have to have a good attitude. We’ve got to come in with a new mentality.”
In addition to their new mentality, the Vikings are also excited to see young players continue to develop.
Sophomore quarterback Thomas Pipkins III and junior running back Jacob Brunton are two players who give the team depth on offense.
“It’s actually really good because we have people that can step into the game,” Fedorka said. “If somebody gets hurt now, we don’t have to panic or worry about somebody getting hurt. We have people that can step up and that will actually come in and play, knowing what they’re doing.”
Fedorka expects the defense to be vastly improved compared. One player who has stuck out in summer camp is senior running back/defensive back Dayveon Jackson. The Vikings expect him to have a breakout season.
Weiss is excited to continue the tradition of Hopewell football and enjoys coaching his team.
“It’s enjoyable to go to practice,” said Weiss. “You’re not fighting attitudes. You’re not fighting different factions. You just have one group of kids that are ready to work and want to get better and prove themselves, and that’s been rewarding all offseason.”
The players enjoy Weiss as a coach too. Kasanzale, who originally was a soccer player, admires Weiss and how he helped him transition to football. He appreciates his dedication to the team.
“You’re not just a player when you play for coach Weiss,” said Kasanzale, “He really likes to call you, text you and check up on you. He’s a real genuine guy. He’s stuck out more than any of my other coaches in my whole playing career, whether it was soccer or anything else, so that made the transition super easy.”
Weiss and Kasanzale are prepared for the 2022 season and want to make an impact.
“I’m excited for what our conference is going to be this year,” Weiss said. “It’s gonna be very competitive week in and week out, and that’s something I’m looking forward to.”
“It’s a different football team,” Kasanzale said. “This isn’t the Hopewell team that anyone knew for the past couple of years. This is a new football team, a new brand, and we’re coming with a different swag this season. We’ll be winning football games this season.”
Coach: Matt Weiss
2021 record: 0-9, 0-5 in Class 3A Northwestern Six Conference
All-time record: 364-398-25
Date, Opponent, Time
8.26 at South Side, 7
9.2 New Brighton, 7
9.10 at Western Beaver, 12:30
9.16 Avonworth*, 7
9.23 at Seton LaSalle*, 7
9.30 Quaker Valley*, 7
10.7 Keystone Oaks, 7
10.14 at South Park*, 7
10.21 West Mifflin*, 7
10.28 at Beaver*, 7:30
Passing: Thomas Pipkins III
21-36, 188 yards, TD
Rushing: Isaiah Pisano
27-104, 2 TDs
Receiving: Cameron Fedorka
23-180, 2 TDs
• Hopewell has had five players make it to the NFL: Paul Posluszny, Curt Singer, Tony Dorsett, Dan Rains and Bill Koman.
• Hopewell’s field is named after Dorsett, the 1976 Pitt national champion, Dalls Cowboys Super Bowl champion and Pro Football Hall of Famer considered one of the greatest running backs of all time.
• Former Pitt and West Virginia running back Rushel Shell III broke the WPIAL and PIAA state record in career rushing yards when he ran for 9,078 in his four years with the Vikings.
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