WPIAL football player of the week: Week 1
Sunday, September 1, 2019 | 10:09 PM
Last year, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart quarterback Tyler Bradley had a huge season, throwing for 3,364 yards and 45 touchdowns in leading the Chargers to their first WPIAL football championship.
Eric Wilson wants to be that guy in 2019.
The Sto-Rox senior quarterback threw for 3,003 yards last year, but they were all in the regular season as the Vikings fell short of a postseason berth.
In a possible “passing of the torch” game Friday, Wilson was dominant in leading the Vikings to an impressive 34-6 win over the Chargers in a Class A Big 7 Conference opener.
“I could see the focus in his eyes in pregame,” Sto-Rox coach LaRoi Johnson said.
That focus continued throughout the night as Wilson hit 20 of 29 passes for a district weekend high of 348 yards.
“He had great accuracy on his deep balls,” Johnson said. “Eric did an outstanding job of stepping up in the pocket and adjusting to the rush. He took what the defense gave him.”
Wilson connected on three touchdown passes, two that went to Amahd Pack for 31 yards and 43 yards. Pack also had a 75-yard punt return to the house for the Vikings.
Sto-Rox finished 6-4 last year and fourth in the Big 7. It was only the third time this decade the Vikings missed out on the WPIAL football playoffs.
The team started last year 0-2, so the flip of the script, and a 2-0 start has everybody around the program feeling good about the season.
Johnson knows what he wants from his star quarterback: “I want him to continue leading us on and off the field.”
Besides leadership and his overall skill set, Johnson feels there is something else that makes Wilson stand out as one of the top quarterbacks in the district.
“His determination to be the best and his willingness to outwork his opponent,” Johnson said. “You don’t find that quality in a lot of kids.”
With only eight teams making the Class A playoffs, there is still a lot of work to be done. But Friday was a big first step.
“I’m proud of our kids in every way possible,” Johnson said. “Our program is built around the kids knowing they can do anything they put their minds to. Just roll your sleeves up and grind for it. We are 2-0 trying to reach 3-0.”
WPIAL Week 1 Honorable Mentions:
Cole Spencer — Pine-Richland
Pine-Richland junior quarterback Cole Spencer worked hard and had success early so he could relax like most Americans on Labor Day weekend.
Spencer completed 19 of 26 passes for 276 yards in leading the top-ranked Rams to a 42-14 win over host Hempfield in a Class 6A conference opener.
He fired five touchdown passes of 7, 48 and 23 yards to Luke Miller and added a 6-yard scoring pass to D’Avy Johnson and a 56-yard hookup with Eli Jochem. All five touchdown passes occurred in the first two quarters as the Rams built a 34-6 cushion over the Spartans by halftime.
Spencer has thrown for 472 yards and seven touchdowns in two Pine-Richland victories.
Nico Flati — West Allegheny
The Chris Lucas era at West Allegheny began with a thrilling come-from-behind win for the Indians.
Junior running back Nico Flati got his season going on a high note as he rushed for 172 yards in a 35-31 triumph over the visiting Chartiers Valley Colts.
Flati also scored on runs of 15 and 27 yards in the first half and 6 and 37 yards in the fourth quarter, with the winning score coming on a fourth-and-2 with just over one minute left in regulation.
Riley Comforti — Southmoreland
The longest active WPIAL football playoff drought turns 40 years this fall, but could it be coming to an end?
Yes, it’s early in the season, but Southmoreland is 2-0 after a big game for senior wideout Riley Comforti.
He caught eight passes for 180 yards and scored on receptions of 63 and 30 yards, plus he returned a kickoff 90 yards for a score in the Scotties’ 56-12 rout of visiting Frazier in a Class 2A Century Conference opener.
Don Rebel hosts the Rebel Yell podcasts for HSSN.