WPIAL football player of the week: Week 5
Sunday, September 29, 2019 | 9:34 PM
President Teddy Roosevelt had his rough riders to help in the Spanish-American war.
Mars has Teddy Ruffner to help in running roughshod on the Class 5A Northern Conference.
“Teddy is a very physical young man and takes pride in everything that he does,” Mars coach Scott Heinauer said. “He is one of the best blockers we have ever had at Mars.”
He also is becoming one of their best running backs.
In a key conference battle Friday, Ruffner carried 34 times for 318 yards and scored five touchdowns in the Planets’ 34-20 win over visiting Shaler.
“I would have to say Teddy’s great attitude and positive work ethic is very contagious with our football team,” Heinauer said. “Our team loves to block for him, and they know sooner or later he will have a big run as he did on Friday night against Shaler.”
That big run came in the fourth quarter. After the Titans pulled to within 20-12, Ruffner had an 88-yard touchdown run that helped the Planets regain control.
Ruffner’s huge game was impressive in that it came against a Shaler team that is big and physical and was coming off a shutdown performance against previously undefeated Franklin Regional the week before.
“Our team and players take pride in running the football,” Heinauer said. “I know that is an old-school attitude, but it’s something that has been around for a long time at Mars.”
There have been a lot of outstanding running backs over the last couple of decades at Mars, including Brad Mueller, Billy Bair, Josh Schultheis, Austin Miele and Chuck Green. But Ruffner is making a name for himself with plenty of yards at the midway point.
Through five weeks, Ruffner has 155 carries for 1,382 yards and 25 touchdowns. Friday was the second time this season he has rushed for more than 300 yards in a game. He had 340 yards in a Week 2 win over Greensburg Salem.
“Teddy is certainly in that category of one of those special running backs at Mars for sure,” Heinauer said. “He has great vision and reads blocks well. He has excellent speed.”
The win over Shaler was a big one for Mars. It lifted the Planets into sole possession of third place in the Northern Conference at 2-1 behind Penn Hills (4-0) and North Hills (3-0) with a game this week at North Hills.
“I told our team before this game that this was a very important game to win, and I wasn’t sure what team would show up for the Shaler game,” Heinauer said. “We didn’t play well in the first half of the Armstrong game, and the second half we played the way we’re capable of playing. This makes our staff feel as if our team is headed in the right direction.”
WPIAL Week Five Honorable Mentions:
Jack Salopek – Norwin
Two teams in Class 6A met Friday in search of a spark and a win. Norwin senior quarterback Jack Salopek delivered more than just a spark.
The Western Michigan recruit feasted on the Golden Tornado defense, completing 19 of 23 passes for 410 yards.
Salopek threw for six touchdowns, including five in the second half as Norwin rolled to a 49-21 victory to keep its playoff hopes alive.
Bryson Venanzio – Gateway
Gateway and North Hills collided Friday in a battle of top teams in their respective Class 5A conferences with overall records of 4-1.
Gators senior quarterback picked a good night to have a big game. He connected on 21 of 30 passes for 337 yards and six touchdowns (9, 50, 2, 77, 10 and 20 yards).
The 40-7 triumph was Gateway’s fourth straight win in which it has outscored its opponents 182-7.
Logan Shrubb – Keystone Oaks
After winning its first three games, Keystone Oaks had been on the wrong end of the score for two straight Tri-County West Conference games.
The Golden Eagles junior quarterback relied on his arm and legs to deliver the KO of Quaker Valley.
Shrubb hit on 14 of 23 passes for 266 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 120 yards and two scores in the Golden Eagles’ 42-0 win over the host Quakers.
2019 Trib HSSN football players of the week:
Don Rebel hosts the Rebel Yell podcasts for HSSN.