With new coach at helm, Norwin hungry to return to playoffs

Wednesday, August 9, 2023 | 9:31 PM

If there is a difference between a Norwin kid and a Hempfield kid, Mike Brown is out to find it.

After two years at Hempfield, Brown left to become the coach at Norwin. Some saw it as a lateral move — one 5A school to another, one toiling program for the one next door — but he saw it as another challenge.

“They are similar schools with similar qualities,” said Brown, a Penn-Trafford graduate. “Same conference. Same 6A-to-5A situation. The kids are hungry. You can tell they have been coached. There are a lot of really good athletes here, quality people. The key is to get quality wins with it.”

And Norwin has been trying to do that for years. Hempfield began to turn things around last year before it was railroaded by injuries.

Still, the Spartans had their first winning season since 2013 (6-4). Norwin hasn’t had more wins than losses since 2007.

Brown replaces Dave Brozeski, who guided the team for nine seasons but stepped down, feeling the team needed a change.

Norwin went 1-9, losing its final seven games of 2022.

Brown is starting from scratch — or is he? — after his brief venture at Hempfield.

“We started here in January with conditioning, and we had spring ball,” Brown said. “We were together four days a week during the summer. So, we’ve spent quite a bit of time around each other. We’re establishing a blueprint. There were a lot of ‘hey yous’ in the beginning, but the kids have been great.”

Senior Jackson Pons is the keystone for the Knights. The Miami of Ohio commit will start at wide receiver and safety.

Sophomores Tristyn Tavares and Josh Lenart were competing for the starting quarterback spot, although Brown said Tavares had the upper hand heading into camp.

“But you never know,” he said.

Juniors Jake Sincak and Cristian Shogan will look to form a one-two rushing punch for a team whose running game needs a shot in the arm.

The Knights averaged just 36.2 rushing yards per game — 1.5 yards per carry — and had two rushing touchdowns.

In addition to Pons, senior Luke Denny returns as a key receiver, along with sophomore Jake Knight.

Along the offensive line will be senior Harrison Jordan, junior Colin Bruno (6-foot-2, 285 pounds) and senior Adam Pham.

Senior Jake Page and Angelo Rothrauff are the inside linebackers, with Evan Archer a key on the defensive line, and Pons and Denny highlighting the secondary.

Page had a team-high 54 tackles, while Rothrauff added 50.

Pons had four interceptions.

“If you can’t pressure or get to the quarterback or shut the run down, it doesn’t matter,” Brown said. “We want to make teams run east to west.”

Norwin had 22 turnovers in 10 games, so taking better care of the ball also is high on the priority list.

Kicker/punter Joey Castle, now at Akron, will be missed on special teams.

Sophomore Evan Pfeifer takes over those spots.


Coach: Mike Brown

2022 record: 1-9, 0-5 in Class 5A Big East Conference

All-time record: 396-597-36


Date, Opponent, Time

8.25 at Upper St. Clair, 7

9.1 Penn Hills, 7

9.8 at Fox Chapel, 7

9.15 Plum*, 7

9.22 at Woodland Hills*, 7

9.29 Penn-Trafford*, 7

10.6 at Franklin Regional*, 7

10.13 at North Allegheny, 7:30

10.20 Gateway*, 7

10.27 Hempfield*, 7

*Conference game


Passing: Trystan Tavares

36-87, 511 yards, 4 TDs

Rushing: Luke Denny

34-175 yards, TD

Receiving: Jackson Pons

23-355 yards, 4 TDs


• Coach Mike Brown’s staff includes Conner Schultheis, Rocco Yauger, Anthony Giansante, Diandre Cooper, Joe Lauricia, Jon Lochiatto, Josh Lugai, Matt Gornall, Ray Reitz, Jackson Pruitt, Justin Hall and Bill Brown, his father. Lauricia, Reitz and Bill Brown coached with him at Hempfield. Lauricia and Schultheis will serve as co-offensive coordinators, with Lauricia guiding the running game and Schultheis the pass.

• Norwin has struggled to run the football in recent seasons. The Knights only had 352 rushing yards last season, with nine ball carriers.

• Jackson Pons saw time at quarterback last year, completing 13 of 33 passes for 145 yards and a touchdown.

• Norwin’s last playoff appearance came in 2017 and the last playoff win and winning season came in 2007.


No., Name, Pos., Ht./Wt., Cl.

1, Jake Knight, WR/DB, 6-0/175, So.

2, Jackson Pons, WR/DB, 6-2/185, Sr.

3, Tristyn Tavares, QB/DB, 5-10/170, So.

4, Zack Pawling, WR/DB, 5-10/165, So.

5, Luke Denny, WR/DB, 6-1/180, Sr.

6, Josh Lenart, QB/LB, 6-1/185, So.

7, Michael Crnkovic, WR/DB, 6-2/175, Jr.

8, Antonio Rothrauff, H/LB, 5-10/200, Sr.

9, Cooper Wilson, WR/DB, 5-5/145, So.

10, Potter Brozeski, QB/DB, 6-1/145, Fr.

11, Ben Markel, WR/DB, 5-10/150, So.

12, Xavier Holtzman, QB/DB, 5-8/130, Fr.

13, Evan Lee, WR/DB, 5-8/140, Fr.

14, Conner Urey, WR/DB, 5-10/160, So.

15, Maddox Pivarnik, WR/DB, 5-9/145, Fr.

16, Tyler Beck, WR/DB, 5-10/150, Fr.

17, Colin Bargiel, WR/DB, 5-11/155, So.

18, Michael DeFazio, H/LB, 6-1/185, So.

19, Angelo Rothrauff, WR/DB, 5-1/115, So.

20, Jackson Simpson, WR/DB, 5-10/135, So.

22, Anthony Cook, WR/DB, 5-9/150, So.

23, Mason Matthews, H/LB, 5-11/195, Sr.

23, Jackson Huss, RB/DB, 5-10/170, Jr.

24, Nicholas Kutchak, WR/LB, 5-9/160, Sr.

25, Dylan Grieves, RB/LB, 5-10/160, Fr.

26, Cristian Shogan, RB/LB, 5-10/200, Jr.

28, Kameron Klass, WR/DB, 5-11/145, Fr.

28, Micah Baer, WR/DB, 5-8/120, Fr.

30, Jake Sincak, RB/DB, 5-9/165, Jr.

32, Giovanni Rothrauff, RB/LB, 5-5/145, Fr.

33, Sauly Guyaux, H/LB, 5-11/190, Fr.

34, Isaiah Francis, H/LB, 5-11/170, Sr.

35, Jackson Beisler, WR/DB, 5-10/160, Fr.

37, James Scott, WR/DB, 5-3/110, Fr.

39, Mason Michalak, RB/DB, 5-9/130, Fr.

40, Giovanni Algeri, H/LB, 6-1/170, Fr.

41, Brayden Houck, WR/LB, 6-0/165, Fr.

42, Carson Miller, H/LB, 6-0/165, Fr.

44, Jacob Page, H/LB, 5-10/190, Sr.

46, Bernard Spada, WR/DB, 6-0/130, So.

50, Mason Kugler, OL/LB, 5-10/225, So.

51, Aiden Pham, OL/DL, 6-1/225, Sr.

52, Martin Tougher, OL/DL, 6-2/275, Sr.

53, Maxsym Fierle, OL/DL, 6-3/210, Fr.

54, Patrick Schmook, OL/DL, 5-11/230, So.

55, Evan Archer, OL/DL, 6-0/225, Jr.

56, Shane Flynn, OL/DL, 5-10/265, Jr.

57, Lucas Altier, OL/DL, 6-1/240, So.

58, Santino Brasco, OL/LB, 5-10/165, Fr.

59, Braydon Playso, OL/DL, 5-11/200, Fr.

60, Christian Twele, OL/DL, 5-8/285, Fr.

61, Cade Zeravica, OL/DL, 5-11/215, Jr.

64, Joseph Zajicek, OL/DL, 5-11/225, So.

66, Harrison Jordan, OL/DL, 6-0/235, Sr.

68, Hunter Luchkiw, OL/DL, 5-10/220, Fr.

70, Aiden Benco, OL/DL, 5-5/240, Fr.

71, Liam Homer, OL/DL, 5-8/190, Fr.

72, Colton Jordan, OL/DL, 6-2/220, Fr.

73, Sebastian Summerville, OL/DL, 6-1/225, Fr.

74, Michael Strutt, OL/DL, 5-11/295, Jr.

77, Colin Bruno, OL/DL, 6-1/290, Jr.

79, Dominick Loffredo, OL/DL, 6-2/185, So.

80, Rocco Zugai, WR/DB, 5-6/120, Fr.

81, Vinh Truong, RB/LB, 5-8/190, Fr.

84, John Bailey, WR/DB, 6-0/175, Fr.

85, Joey Douglas, WR/LB, 6-0/170, Sr.

87, Ian Feingold, WR/DB, 5-10/135, Fr.

88, Griffin Bartos, H/DL, 5-9/195, Sr.

90, Carter Smith, OL/DL, Fr.

91, Jeremy Swiebel, Fr.

92, Tyler Caskey, Fr.

99, Evan Pfeifer, K/P, 6-0/160, Jr.

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


More High School Football

Unheralded QB runs his family’s business — Aliquippa’s offense — with championship efficiency
Trib 10: WPIAL champs chasing state gold occupy top 6 spots in power rankings
Belle Vernon faces Hickory with a trip to the PIAA Class 3A championship game on the line
Unlike The Birdie, Belle Vernon football keeps going up
Trib HSSN Pennsylvania high school football rankings for Nov. 28, 2023