Norwin’s Salopek focused on leadership role in senior season

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Thursday, July 18, 2019 | 4:38 PM


The Tribune-Review and the TribLive High School Sports Network are profiling each member of the 25-player Trib HSSN Preseason Football All-Star team. The players will be recognized July 23 during HSSN Media Day at Kennywood Park.

Jack Salopek is a pro-style quarterback, which pairs nicely with his pro-style demeanor.

The Norwin senior often has shown a maturity ahead of his years in leading the Knights’ offense, both in the huddle and in the pocket. He is a Division I talent who will play at Western Michigan.

But before he sets sail in college football, his leadership will be a key intangible again this season for the Knights, who tumbled to a 3-7 mark last year after starting 2-1 and nearly defeating rival Penn-Trafford in Week Zero.

The teams square off in the season opener again Aug. 23 at Penn-Trafford.

“Jack is an excellent leader by example through hard work at all of our workouts,” Norwin coach Dave Brozeski said. “I also am excited to see him take the next step individually as a player this year and expect him to have a great senior season.”

Salopek took care of his recruiting situation in May when he committed to Western Michigan.

Pitt initially had offered, but when the sides grew apart and the offer flamed out, Salopek went with a program that remained loyal to him.

With his commitment made, the pressure to perform has lessened, the 6-foot-2, 175-pounder said.

“I don’t feel like I have to worry about impressing college coaches anymore,” Salopek said. “Which, in the end, will let me play more loose and less uptight.”

A three-star prospect by Rivals.com, Salopek may have the strongest arm in the WPIAL. His ability is there, both as a pocket presence and voice in the huddle. But last year, he had to use his legs more to evade pass rushers who dashed through the Knights’ line — a line that is more experienced and primed to give its quarterback more time to maneuver.

“I love my O-line,” Salopek said. “They give it all they got every single play, and that’s all that I can ask for. I’ll go to battle with those guys any day of the week.”

Brozeski expects a step-up type of year from his linemen.

“I like the attitude the linemen — both offensive and defensive — have shown throughout the summer as they work together to get better as a unit,” the coach said. “I expect them to take the experiences they learned last season along with the work they have put in throughout this summer to take strides and improve as a whole for this season.”

Salopek completed 116 of 226 passes for 1,790 yards and 15 touchdowns against just four interceptions, but he led the team in rushing attempts (103), a bad sign for the Knights.

Zeke Houser was next with 76 carries.

Salopek ran for 122 yards and three scores, numbers the team did not initially envision.

With more time to pass, and more receivers waiting in the wings, Salopek could have a big year and perhaps get to better showcase his downfield ability.

“My goals are the exact same as they have always been,” he said. “One, be a great leader; two, be the hardest working kid in the country; and three, win a state championship.”

Jack Salopek file

School: Norwin

Class: Senior

Ht/wt: 6-2/175

Positions: QB

Stars: 3

Committed to: Western Michigan

Division I offers: Pitt, Colgate, Brown, Lehigh, Harvard, Dartmouth, Yale, Sacred Heart and Youngstown State.

2018 statistics: Completed 116 of 226 passes for 1,790 yards and 15 touchdowns

Trib HSSN Preseason All-Stars

A.J. Beatty, Central Catholic

Fintan Brose, Hempfield

Tui Brown, Gateway

Michael Carmody, Mars

Josh Casilli, Peters Township

Johnny Crise, Highlands

Derrick Davis, Gateway

Daniel Deabner, Thomas Jefferson

Deamontae Diggs, McKeesport

Dorien Ford, Baldwin

Aaron Gunn, Union

Dayon Hayes, Westinghouse

Nahki Johnson, West Mifflin

Josh Kaltenberger, Seneca Valley

Caleb Lisbon, Penn-Trafford

Jake Lugg, North Allegheny

Luke Meckler, Pine-Richland

George Padezanin, Montour

Joshua Rawlings, Woodland Hills

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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