Pine-Richland’s Cole Spencer earns Trib HSSN Football Player of the Year honors

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Saturday, December 5, 2020 | 2:43 PM


Following in the footsteps of one of the best quarterbacks the WPIAL has produced, Cole Spencer didn’t blink.

Spencer passed Phil Jurkovec for most wins at Pine-Richland and now has matched the current Boston College signal caller in leading the Rams to WPIAL and PIAA football championships.

“Cole Spencer is a winner,” Pine-Richland coach Eric Kasperowicz said of the senior quarterback.

Another thing Spencer now has in common with Jurkovec, they both have won Trib HSSN Football Player of the Year awards.

When asked what his quarterback’s strengths are, Kasperowicz replied, “Cole has a bunch, but I’d say his top strengths are his will to win, his accuracy and his poise.”

As a sophomore, Spencer completed 57% of his passes. As a junior, it was 68% and as a senior, he completed 72% of his passes.

In 2017, Jurkovec completed 243 of 334 passes for 3,969 yards and 39 touchdowns as Pine-Richland finished 16-0 in winning Class 6A district and state championships.

This fall, Spencer led the WPIAL in passing by completing 148 of 206 attempts for 2,448 yards and 32 touchdowns as the Rams ended up 11-0 on their way to Class 5A WPIAL and PIAA titles.

In his three years as starting quarterback at Pine-Richland, Spencer finished with a 32-5 record with two WPIAL titles and one PIAA championship.

However, it’s not just on the gridiron where Spencer excels for Pine-Richland.

He is a champion wrestler. In fact, once he graduates from Pine-Richland in the spring, he will head east for an Ivy League education where he will wrestle at Penn.

Spencer has more than 100 career victories in the 152-pound weight class and won his first WPIAL individual wrestling championship last winter. He went on to finish fourth at the PIAA championships.

One of the highlights of the season for Spencer and the Rams occurred in an incredible 48-44 PIAA semifinals victory over Governor Mifflin. Pine-Richland trailed 21-0 early on and 41-19 in the third quarter. Spencer scored the game-winning touchdown on a 54-yard run with 2 minutes, 18 seconds left.

Spencer took time to answer a few questions after being named the 2020 Trib HSSN Football Player of the Year:

What was the feeling when the clock hit zero on the Hersheypark Stadium scoreboard knowing you were state champions but also realizing your football career has reached the end?

It was an amazing feeling winning a state title with my best friends, knowing we have had this goal in mind since freshman year. At the same time, it’s crazy to think that was my last time putting the pads on. In the moment, I was definitely more excited for my team and coaches on the great accomplishment instead of it being my last game ever.

What was the difference between winning gold in football and capturing a championship in wrestling?

The biggest difference is that it is an all-around team effort from coaches, players, trainers and also the parents. We have put our heart and soul into this program and without all of us giving our all, this would never have happened.

That comeback in the PIAA semifinals against Governor Mifflin, was that the best feeling in your wildly successful scholastic athletic career?

Without a doubt! That might be one of the greatest comebacks I have ever witnessed up to this point in my life, and I was so blessed to be a part of that win. I will for sure be telling that story to my grand kids.

What were you thinking after erasing a 21-0 deficit in that game, only to fall behind by 22 points to Governor Mifflin midway through the third quarter?

To go back down by 22 was heartbreaking, and I’m not going to lie, I thought my career was over. Coming off the field down by that much, I was on the verge of tears. Although I knew I had to be positive in the moment and try to get the momentum back, which happened that next drive to get us back into the game.

What made the connection between you and WR Eli Jochem so special and so successful these last couple of years?

Ever since my sophomore year, Eli and I never played defense and during the defensive portion of practice we would go to the other side of the field with his dad (QB coach Todd Jochem) and work on specific things to get better. This connection came naturally over a whole season of doing that.

What were some of the drills you did that helped you with your accuracy this season?

To be honest, there weren’t any specific drills that I did to make me more accurate. It came naturally with being a whole year older and just getting with my quarterbacks coach and receivers and repping our plays over and over again. This helped me know where they were going to be and when to get the ball out of my hands, and they knew where and when to expect the ball.

Was there a time this summer when you thought your senior football season would be wiped away by the pandemic?

Ever since our school got shut down and football workouts were pushed back it was definitely a question of would we have a season? Being a returning captain for this team, I had to be positive and make sure my fellow seniors were as well. Although there was doubt in my mind, I kept a positive mindset through it all. When everything is said and done, we did what was needed to get the season started and to keep playing throughout the season and playoffs.

Are you optimistic your wrestling season will be completed?

I’ve heard different things about how they are going to go about the wrestling season, and I know that wrestling is a lot more high risk than football, so everything is really up in the air as of now.

If the winter sports season plays out, do you expect your district and state golden collection to grow?

Ever since I fell short in the WPIAL finals last year in football and took fourth place at states for wrestling, the goal has been to win a PIAA state title in both football and wrestling. I’ve got one of those so far so anything less than a state title in wrestling would be a disappointment.

What is your favorite Christmas tradition?

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is that the night of Christmas Eve, my younger brother, younger sister and I all have a sleep over in my room. We all spread out with our pillows and blankets and are excited for the next morning.

What are your favorite desserts?

Cherry pie has always been a favorite of mine, especially when you add some cookies and cream ice cream to it. You also can’t go wrong with some brownies in there too.

What is your favorite movie of all-time?

My favorite movie of all time is probably the “Hangover” series. I swear those get funnier every time I watch it.

The last time I laughed so hard it hurt was when…

My three friends pull their car up into my yard and ran over a huge tree stump, then reversed the car over the tree stump again. His car broke pretty badly. It was so funny watching his reaction.

Weather-wise, what is your favorite of the four seasons?

The summer is by far my favorite. Being out of school and being able to go to a beach or a lake and hanging out with friends is just awesome.

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