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Kasperowicz has Pine-Richland football pointed in right direction

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The 2013 Pine-Richland Rams.
Top high school sports
Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Every season brings change and a renewed sense of excitement. For Pine-Richland, the torch has been passed from a championship-caliber coach in Clair Altemus to perhaps the hottest assistant coach in the WPIAL: Eric Kasperowicz.

Kasperowicz's football resume is impressive. As a player, he led North Hills to the WPIAL and PIAA championships in 1993, then as an offensive coordinator for the Indians years later, he devised different offenses to fit different talents.

Kasperowicz moved to Pine-Richland in 2011 and installed an offense that has produced big numbers. Those numbers could continue to rise with an array of talent back at key positions.

It all begins with second-year starting quarterback Ben DiNucci. DiNucci led the WPIAL in completions last season.

“There is still work to do, but Ben makes it easy,” Kasperowicz said. “He is smart, a good decision-maker and he gets rid of the ball.”

DiNucci is one of six returning starters on offense. Another is running back Connor Slomka, who surpassed 1,000 yards last season and will open as the starter.

“I was just in the right place at the right time last year,” Slomka said.

Last year's starter, Brock Baranowski, suffered an injury, and Slomka stepped in to help replace that lost offense.

“Brock helped me a lot last year,” Slomka said. “This year I am stronger, and faster and our line looks good. I have a better understanding of the offense, and this year we will get more players involved.”

Players like Mike Merhut, D'ondre Gatison, Chris Szelong, Mike Everett and (Anthony Bennett) will be the cast of players DiNucci will be cycling the ball to.

“They are all players with good hands, and they can all block, too, which is important to our running game,” DiNucci said. “My timing and footwork is better … my three- and five-step drops and my timing, too.”

Kasperowicz said he expects big things from Merhut and a good line with three returning starters will help.

With the offense looking potent, the defense will be in good hands, too, led by junior Joe Liberman and Brendan Burnham.

Two-way lineman Jake Leone is a senior and team captain and will be a factor on both sides of the ball once again.

Kasperowicz vows the special teams will be great, and some of that hinges on kicker/punter Ben Engle.

“Special teams is one-third of the game, and we are definitely going to coach them up,” Kasperowicz said. “We will be prepared to battle every game. The kids have bought into what I am selling and working really hard.”

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