Mars hopes to lean on Carmody in quest for WPIAL playoff success

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Friday, August 16, 2019 | 11:06 AM


Last season was another successful one for Mars. The Planets finished in second place in the Class 5A Northern Conference and posted a 9-2 overall record.

The downfall was one too many Hills to climb.

They lost to eventual conference, district and state champion Penn Hills in the regular season, then the Fightin’ Planets were stunned in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs, losing to Woodland Hills, 14-0.

Now instead of hills, Mars must overcome holes left in its roster after getting hit hard by graduation.

“We lose 15 senior players and our whole backfield, which is huge part of our team from last year,” said Scott Heinauer, now in his 29th season as Mars’ coach. “We also lost our defensive line and secondary, which is a huge hole in our defense. We will have to grow up fast and try and jell as quick as we can because our section is very tough.”

The Planets return only four starters on offense and five on defense.

One of those starters returning is among the top players in the WPIAL and an anchor on both lines.

Senior Michael Carmody (6-foot-6, 295 pounds) will be, as Heinauer said, “the guy we will run to and will be a force on defense.” The Notre Dame recruit also has helped Mars win back-to-back WPIAL basketball championships.

“This year, all the guys have been really invested with their time, and everyone is getting to the weight room,” Carmody said. “I want to help lead Mars to a WPIAL championship.”

In the modern world of spread offenses, the Fightin’ Planets are old school, still running successfully with the wing-T offense.

“If our team is going to be successful it will depend upon the senior leadership,” Heinaeur said. “Camp is a time for our seniors to help our young players learn our wing-T system.”

Added Carmody: “Running the wing-T, a lot of teams have a little bit of trouble learning it in a week, but working hard and doing everything right, we can be successful with it.”

The team will rely heavily on the athleticism of Drew Schlegel. The senior rushed for 359 yards and had 237 yards in receptions a year ago as he makes the move to quarterback and returns to his free safety position on defense.

Junior Teddy Ruffner ran for nearly 500 yards a year ago and will be the workhorse at running back. He is also a starting linebacker.

Joining Ruffner as returning linebackers are junior Ben Chizmar and senior Joe DeLuca.

Another strength for the Fightin’ Planets this season will be in the trenches. Alongside Carmody are seniors Dalton Becker, Gio Cuzzocrea and Mitch Wright.

“I think the most exciting thing is that we do return a large part of our offensive line and our linebackers with this team,” Heinauer said. “It will be exciting to see how those players become leaders and develop our younger players into their roles on our team.”

While inexperience and depth are concerns for Heinauer, he loves how the program continues to succeed while climbing up the classification ladder. A Class AA school a dozen years ago, Mars moved up last year to Class 5A for the first time.

“Our team played very hard, and I was proud of what we accomplished last year in a new conference in 5A,” Heinauer said. “It was very difficult playing much bigger teams than Mars with more depth. I was proud of what our player accomplished in our first year.”

Schedule

Coach: Scott Heinauer

2018 record: 9-2, 6-1

All-time record: 414-510-32

Date, Opponent, Time

8.23, West Mifflin, 7

8.30, at Moon, 7

9.6, Greensburg Salem, 7

9.13, at Penn Hills*, 7

9.20, at Armstrong*, 7

9.27, Shaler*, 7

10.4, at North Hills*, 7:30

10.11, Fox Chapel*, 7

10.18, Kiski Area*, 7

10.25, at Hampton*, 7

*Class 5A Northern Conference game

Statistical leaders

Passing: Tyler Kowalkowski*

56-131, 1,168 yards, 11 TDs

Rushing: Garrett Reinke*

243-1,807 yards, 22 TDs

Receiving: Tom Sheehy*

13-295 yards, 4 TDs

*Graduated

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