Pisula carries big load for Southmoreland
Southmoreland football coach Mark Adams is pretty direct with his assessment of what running back Jake Pisula means to the Scotties' football team.
“Jake's the catalyst that makes our offense go,” Adams said. “He's a hard running back. He runs a like a 6-2, 200-pounder. He's very humble in what he does. He's never been big-headed in his life. I like that about him. He has a great attitude, great workmanship. He pushes people by the way he works. I don't have to say too much to him. I expect him to continue to grow and expect him to be premier back within the next year or so. On a team like ours we need him.”
For the most part, Pisula hasn't let his coach down. The 5-feet, 10-inch, 172-pound junior has gained 611 yards through the first five weeks of the season.
Talking to Pisula during a break in a recent practice, he expressed some disappointment. He'd like to see the team have a bit more success.
“It's not going as I planned,” Pisula said. “We've got a lot of young kids on our team and we're still trying to build. We (opened) with probably some of the top three teams in the WPIAL.”
The Scotties did open with a meat grinder of a schedule with games against Jeannette, Washington (when Division I-recruit Shai McKenzie was still playing) and Mt. Pleasant before a tough 9-6 loss to Ford City in a non-conference game. The Scotties did come up with a victory Sept. 27 by holding off Waynesburg by a 14-13 score.
Pisula did admit he's pleased he's been able to amass some numbers while toting the pigskin, but his thoughts quickly go back to the team.
“I'm happy with my performance so far,” he said. “The first game I got over 100 yards, the second game I got over 200. I'm pretty satisfied with my performance. I'm going to step it up a little more so we can get some wins under our belt. It's kind of disappointing. I was hoping the best for the team, but you've just got to keep your head up and just keep on pounding and keep on working hard.”
Adding to the disappointment and difficulty of the season has been the fact that the Scotties are not able to play at their home stadium — Russ Grimm Field. Storms that invaded western Pennsylvania in August severely damaged the field-turf surface, rendering it unplayable.
“I feel sorry for our seniors, not playing home games,” Pisula said. “Home games have home-field advantage. Traveling to every game is kind of a pain in the butt, but you've got to make the best of it.”
Another adjustment for Pisula and his teammates this year is the new offense implemented by Adams which utilizes more of a Pistol formation than the wide-open Spread offense they've used in recent years. Pisula admits he likes the offense and the coach said his back has transitioned nicely.
“He loves the fact the offense is built around what he does well,” Adams said.
Adams is not afraid to have Pisula run the ball, and he has been given it on average more than 20 times a game.
Pisula also plays both sides of the ball as he mans a spot at the corner on the Scotties defense, as well as his running back duties. However, offense is where he likes to be. He likes the feeling of scoring touchdowns.
“I feel more comfortable on offense and (when I'm) getting the ball,” Pisula said.
Pisula plans to just keep moving forward this season trying to amass more yardage and help his team collect wins. He will continue his routine of praying and wearing his cross for each game, as well as sporting a Superman undershirt.
“It makes me feel good,” he said. “It's like I'm Superman, I don't know.”
Pisula's family has a long history on the gridiron. He's had two uncles play at the Division I level — Allen Pisula played at West Virginia and Doug Pisula played at Tulsa. Jake would like to follow in their cleat marks and play at the collegiate level himself.
“I've gotten some letters (from college) so far and going to keep on working hard, make a video and see what I can get,” he said.
His coach thinks Pisula has what it takes to play in college.
“I've seen a lot of backs,” Adams said. “I believe Jake has the ability to play at the next level. He just has to continue to mature into it. I'm going to push for it. I believe he's worked for it.”
Paul Paterra is staff editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-887-6101 or firstname.lastname@example.org.