Trib HSSN football team of the week for 2023 Week 7

Sunday, October 15, 2023 | 7:55 PM

Since being hired as head coach at Pine-Richland in 2013, Eric Kasperowicz has become synonymous with high scoring, successful offenses.

The former high school quarterback turned the Rams into a district and state power with their high octane offenses that brought a lot of wins and titles to the program.

Now in his second season as head coach at Mars, that offensive mentality has carried over to the Fightin’ Planets, who came into their Week 7 showdown against Armstrong having scored 288 points in their first seven games.

But it wasn’t what the Fightin’ Planets did against the River Hawks on offense that has them winning this week’s HSSN Team of the Week honors; it’s what Mars did on defense.

They took a River Hawks offense that was averaging 37 points per game, shut them down and shut them out as Mars remained on top in the Class 4A Greater Allegheny Conference with a 38-0 home win over Armstrong.

“The kids played hard, and hats off to my defensive staff. They did a tremendous job preparing the kids to play,” Kasperowicz said. “Armstrong runs a very similar offense to us, so we’re familiar with it. They have a talented group of kids with two of the best receivers in the WPIAL and a quarterback who is going to be a big time quarterback.

“We had a pretty good scheme and a pretty good plan, and our kids went out and played. They were physical and they challenged the guys at the line of scrimmage and made the plays. The tighter the game plan, the faster the kids can play, the less they have to think and I think that was a culminating thing.”

Last year, junior Eric Kasperowicz Jr. was the Fightin’ Planets starting quarterback, throwing for 1,353 yards and 13 touchdowns.

However, this season following offseason arm surgery, the coach’s son is wearing many different hats while running and catching the football on offense and anchoring the defense at safety.

“We knew long ago he has a labrum and a rotator cuff tear so he had offseason surgery,” Coach Kasperowicz said. “It wasn’t successful as far as the pain goes, so we knew he couldn’t throw. We knew in June he wasn’t going to be our quarterback.”

Junior Luke Goodworth has taken over and led the offense. On Friday, he threw for 174 yards and two touchdowns. For the season, he has 1,554 yards and 17 touchdowns.

“Luke has stepped in and been tremendous,” Kasperowicz said. “He was the backup and now he’s stepped in and is leading the team. It’s been a steady climb. He’s gotten better and better each week. He’s learning how to distribute the football to our playmakers. He understands he doesn’t have to make all the plays.”

While he has shined, the brightest light on the Mars offense is running back Evan Wright. The senior ran for 146 yards in Week 7 and scored two more touchdowns, giving him the lead in the WPIAL with 23 TDs.

“Evan’s been tremendous and, knock on wood, he’s been able to stay healthy,” Kasperowicz said. “Last year he was in and out all year. We knew what a playmaker he was. He has a different running style. He’s short, he’s strong, he’s extremely thick, and he’s one of the fastest kids I’ve ever seen. When he breaks away, it’s rare that anybody comes near him. He’s a hard worker, he’s a three-year starter, and he does things the right way.”

Mars has a one-game lead in the Greater Allegheny and will finish the season on the road against two teams right behind. On Friday, Mars is at Hampton and the Fightin’ Planets finish by visiting North Catholic.

WPIAL Week 7 Honorable Mention

Seneca Valley Raiders

It was a rough first half to the 2023 season for Seneca Valley, which started the season with losses in its first five games. The Raiders need wins against Central Catholic and North Allegheny to reach the playoffs, but celebrated their third straight win on Friday. Kai West ran for 196 yards and Sean O’Shea gained 167 yards on the ground as Seneca Valley rolled in a nonconference game at North Hills, 46-25.

Central Valley Warriors

Fans expect Central Valley to shine as the mercury starts to dip. The Warriors are in a three-way tie for second place in the Class 4A Parkway Conference, one game out of first place after another strong performance by quarterback Steven Rutherford, who threw for 151 yards and a touchdown and also ran for 58 yards as Central Valley cruised past Ambridge, 56-12, to clinch a playoff spot. Central Valley will need to finish strong at West Allegheny on Friday and home to Aliquippa in Week 9.

East Allegheny Wildcats & Knoch Knights

Two teams that finished a combined 4-6 in the Class 3A Allegheny Six Conference a year ago were Week 7 winners, and now both sit in first place with a combined conference record of 6-0. Michael Cahill threw for 156 yards and a touchdown as the Wildcats beat Deer Lakes, 17-13. Codi Mullen threw for 200 yards and three touchdowns as the Knights blanked host Freeport, 19-0. This sets up the Allegheny Six championship game in Week 8 as East Allegheny visits Knoch.

2023 HSSN Teams of the Week

Week 6 – Pine-Richland Rams

Week 5 – Moon Tigers

Week 4 – Thomas Jefferson Jaguars

Week 3 – Knoch Knights

Week 2 – Waynesburg Central Raiders

Week 1 – Aliquippa Quips

Week Zero – Mt. Lebanon Blue Devils


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