Pine-Richland football wants to guard against letdown

Sunday, October 29, 2017 | 11:00 PM

To say the Pine-Richland football team's regular season was a success is a vast understatement.

The Rams (10-0, 6-0) marched through their WPIAL Class 6A schedule, winning by an average margin of 38.3 points on their way to a Northern Seven Conference title.

Coach Eric Kasperowicz and his team defeated the other four schools in the Trib's Class 6A rankings, most recently knocking off No. 4 North Allegheny, 48-28, in what was their most tightly contested game this season.

“It's good to win handily. That's always a good feeling, but the scary part to that is that you haven't been tested yet,” Kasperowicz said. “It was good to kind of get a test there with North Allegheny in the regular season so the guys understand that they aren't untouchable, and there are good teams out there that can beat you.

“To get that in the regular season, I think it's priceless. It reminds everybody that we have to stay with the process.”

After imposing its will on quality Class 6A opponents throughout the regular season, the question for Pine-Richland heading into the WPIAL playoffs is how does it avoid the one thing that might be able to stop it: a mental letdown?

“It's complacency, and we talk about that all the time,” Kasperowicz said. “It's good when you win and win handily, but that's the problem that you have to face. The guys might start thinking they're better than they are. They might start reading the press clippings a little too much.”

“You have to make sure that they're preparing in the same way so that they can keep getting to that spot. It's the playoffs now, so it's a one-game season. Every game matters. We have to go 1-0, and it begins this week.”

While it's a topic the Rams coach does not shy away from with his players, the responsibility of guarding against a postseason letdown also is on the upperclass leaders.

The seniors are a group with plenty of postseason experience, and their coach is confident they are aware of the any potential pitfalls.

“We got a big group of seniors, and they're leading this football team. We go as they go, and they're extremely competitive, hungry, passionate guys,” Kasperowicz said.

“They want to leave a legacy here at Pine-Richland, and they're on their way to doing that.

“But we've only accomplished the conference championship so far, and they've got more goals for down the road.”

Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.


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