Norwin closes book on record-breaking career of QB Jack Salopek
Friday, November 8, 2019 | 7:58 PM
Norwin’s highly touted senior quarterback Jack Salopek ended his high school career as the all-time leading passer in Westmoreland County history.
A Western Michigan recruit, Salopek finished with 6,150 career passing yards and 40 career touchdowns.
He now is ranked among the top 15 passers in WPIAL history in 14th place, ahead of Steel Valley grad Luke Getsy (2001), who threw for 6,010 yards.
Norwin coach Dave Brozeski offered lavish praise for the 6-foot-3, 180-pound Salopek.
“Jack has been an absolute joy to coach,” Brozeski said. “He obviously has achieved many accolades and owns several school records, but what stands out most to me with Jack is his daily preparation and desire to succeed that he demonstrated throughout his career. Replacing a four-year letterman, three-year starter, two-time team captain and a D1 quarterback will be very difficult, but replacing Jack as a leader will be the most difficult task.
“I’ve been very privileged to have had the opportunity to have Jack as a player in our program, and I look forward to following his football career at Western Michigan.”
In 2019, Salopek broke the Knights’ single-season passing record (2,037 yards) set by Waylon Davis in 1997, hitting on 162 of 303 throws for 2,231 yards and 16 touchdowns with 12 interceptions.
It was his third straight banner season at the QB position. Salopek connected on 116 of 226 tosses for 1,790 yards and 15 scores last year.
“Without my family, who knows what my career at Norwin would have been like?” Salopek said. “They have instilled in me qualities such as hard work, dedication and the desire to be great, and I cannot thank them enough for that. My brothers T.J. and Michael, who were 10 times the football player I am, were huge impacts on my career. They taught me everything I know about the game and pushed me to become the best I can.
“Records are something I don’t want my career to be defined as, but accomplishing them is something I am proud of. Without my teammates and coaches, those records could have never been accomplished.”
One of the notable highlights of Salopek’s scholalstic career was his performance in the 2018 season opener against rival Penn-Trafford. He completed 20 of 28 passes for 288 yards and four touchdowns, also running for a score, sparking the Knights to a 44-36 victory.
Salopek owns a 3.6 GPA and plans to major in finance in college. He had a host of offers for football and chose WMU over bids from Pitt, Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Lehigh, Penn, Yale, Duquesne, Youngstown State, Sacred Heart and UMass.
Five players finished with 20 or more catches for Norwin this season — junior TE Tanner Krevokuch (32 for 288 yards, 1 TD), senior WR Sean Pavlic (29-475, 7), junior WR Connor Chrisman (28-472, 1), junior WR Tyler Bilinsky (24-310, 2) and senior WR Declan O’Brien (23-349, 3).
As a group, those five combined for 136 receptions, 1,894 yards and 14 TDs.
The Knights’ offensive line was anchored by the likes of junior Anthony Giansante (6-4, 280), seniors Aaron Bowen, Liam Melegari and Connor Vogel and sophomore Jake Young.
Giansante’s cousin, Jimmy Giansante, was a star wide receiver at Thomas Jefferson who later played at New Hampshire.
On defense, Norwin’s leading tacklers consisted of Krevokuch (LB), senior Tanner Queen (DB), junior Nick Fleming (LB), Chrisman (DB), O’Brien (DB), seniors Alex Novak (DL), Michael Ryan (DB) and Brandon Grimes (LB), and sophomore Austin Kantz (DB).
Krevokuch and Queen led in tackles with 75 and 72, respectively. Fleming chipped in with 65. Grimes posted a team-high six tackles for loss and three sacks.
Norwin’s freshman kicking specialist Joe Castle converted 17 of 19 PAT attempts and 2 of 4 field goals, with a long of 37 yards.
“Joe has good size and performed well,” Brozeski said. “I am looking forward to seeing what the future has in store for him.”
Norwin ended up 2-8 this year, with wins against Butler, 49-21, and Chartiers Valley, 28-13.
After securing a playoff berth in Brozeski’s first four years at Norwin — the first time in school history the football team made four consecutive postseason appearances — the Knights sat out the postseason in 2018 and 2019.
“We always have the expectation to make the playoffs at the beginning of each season,” Brozeski said. “I am very proud of the effort of all the players throughout the year. They continued to battle week in and week out.
“We will work hard this offseason to improve our participation numbers on our football teams and to get bigger, stronger and faster in preparation for the 2020 season.”
Brozeski took time to laud the 47 athletes on this year’s injury-riddled squad, particularly praising the senior class.
“I am proud of the players and coaches for continuing to battle and prepare throughout the season,” he said, “despite the large number of injuries we had to endure.
“I would like to add how fortunate I was to have been the football coach for our senior class. They demonstrated their ability to persevere, and I am proud to be called their coach.”
Central Catholic, North Allegheny and Pine-Richland tied for first with 7-1 records in Class 6A conference play this year, followed by Mt. Lebanon (5-3), Seneca Valley (4-4), Canon-McMillan (3-5), Hempfield (2-6), Norwin (1-7) and Butler (0-8).
“Obviously, this season did not turn out the way everyone hoped it would,” said Salopek, who started a few varsity games as a freshman. “I would like to apologize to the Norwin community for failing to produce a winning season and a playoff berth. I know it is something my team and I worked so hard for. But I can promise I left everything I had on that field each and every Friday night.
“I’d like to thank my friends for all the great memories over the past four years. Football has given me friendships that will last a lifetime.”
More Football• PIAA football championship factoids: WPIAL teams look to make history
• The Birdie thinks Jeannette will do the steamrolling in PIAA finals
• High school football schedule, broadcasts for PIAA championships
• PIAA Class A football championship preview: Jeannette vs. Steelton-Highspire
• Trib HSSN state football rankings for Nov. 24, 2020