Pine-Richland’s Luke Meckler named Trib HSSN Football Player of the Week
By: Don Rebel
Sunday, September 30, 2018 | 10:21 PM
Every football coach preaches all week about starting fast and scoring first.
There’s fast, and then there is what Pine-Richland and running back Luke Meckler did to Central Catholic in the first quarter.
The Rams scored five touchdowns, with Meckler delivering four of them, in a Class 6A rout of the Vikings.
“We’ve had a lot of fast starts around here, but that is the first time I’ve seen Luke explode like that,” Pine-Richland coach Eric Kasperowicz said. “We knew he had it in him. It was just a matter of giving him the opportunity.”
After Anthony Cerminara scored on a 2-yard run, Meckler ran wild, starting with an 82-yard scoring run, followed by touchdown runs of 6, 81 and 54-yards — all before the end of the first quarter.
By the time the first 12 minutes came to an end, Meckler and the Rams had a mind-numbing 35-7 lead.
“The offensive line did a great job up front opening holes, and when Luke got a crease, he took it,” Kasperowicz said. “He doesn’t need much with how explosive he is.”
Meckler finished with 280 yards as Pine-Richland cruised to a 42-21 win that improved the Rams to 5-1 overall and 4-0 in Class 6A.
The amazing thing about Meckler’s first quarter is he had not rushed for more than 100 yards in a game this season and the junior was averaging only 44 yards per game.
“Luke started on defense for us since his freshman year, so we are very aware of Luke’s abilities,” Kasperowicz said. “He is a tremendous athlete but an even better kid. Luke is very coachable and a pleasure to be around. He is a leader on this football team and somebody that we need to play well.”
WPIAL Week 5 honorable mentions:
• Josh O’Hare, Canon-McMillan
One team had won four out of five games, and the other had dropped three of four. But the old saying is: When it comes to rivals, you can throw the records out the window. And if tossed out the window, Josh O’Hare would have picked them up and rumbled for positive yardage. O’Hare rushed for 214 yards and scored on touchdown runs of 1 and 35 yards, then sealed the deal with a 23-yard scoring run to lead the Big Macs to a 35-26 upset of Peters Township.
• Mason Pascoe, Belle Vernon
After losing to Thomas Jefferson in Week 2, Belle Vernon needed help to win another Big Eight Conference crown. But first the Leopards needed to take care of their own business as they did Friday thanks to the running of Pascoe. The senior rushed for 248 yards and scored four first-half touchdowns: 48 and 70 yards in the first quarter and 6 and 48 yards in the second quarter. That helped the Leopards pass Greensburg Salem in the standings with a 48-14 home triumph.
• Seth Cohen, Highlands
There are a handful of WPIAL football teams trying to erase terrible starts to rebound and qualify for the postseason. One of those teams is Highlands. The Golden Rams were 0-4 before winning two straight Northwest Eight Conference games, the latest coming when quarterback Seth Cohen hit 7 of 10 passes for 304 yards and four touchdowns in a 56-17 rout of Ambridge.
• Marshall Whipkey and Christian Clutter, McGuffey
One stud on offense is tough to shut down. A one-two punch, though, is something most teams can’t stop. The “one” was by ground as Christian Clutter rushed for 228 yards and two touchdowns. The “two” was by air as quarterback Marshall Whipkey was 8 of 12 for 226 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for a score as McGuffey took sole possession of first place in the Class 2A Century Conference with a 56-28 win over Southmoreland.
• Tyler Bradley, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart
The Chargers continued their best season, moving to 6-0 with a 56-13 rout of Big 7 foe Laurel on homecoming. Tyler Bradley threw for 257 yards and four touchdowns in the first half and ended the afternoon 20 of 30 passes for 423 yards and seven touchdowns. OLSH will step out of conference play in Week 6 for a showdown with Jeannette.
• Bonus mention, Bentworth, Cornell and Laurel
There were 12 WPIAL Class A football games Friday and Saturday in Week 5. Nine of them ended in shutouts. Eight of those games went to the mercy rule as the average score in those nine shutouts was 46-0. Is it any wonder the WPIAL has shrunk the Class A playoffs from 16 to 8 teams? For the record, Bentworth scored 21 points in a 23-point loss to Monessen, Cornell scored 14 points in a 29-point loss to Rochester and Laurel scored 13 points in a 43-point loss to OLSH.
Don Rebel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Don at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @TheDonRebel.