Archive

Explosive offense carries Pine-Richland into finals | TribLIVE.com
News

Explosive offense carries Pine-Richland into finals

ptrnapr08090614
Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
Pine Richland's Mike Merhaut avoids North Allegheny's Riley Treman Friday, Sept. 5, 2014, at Newman Stadium.
PTRSVPR02090613
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pine-Richland receiver Michael Merhaut scores past Seneca Valley's Brad Hensler during the first quarter of their Quad North game Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013, in Pine.
ptrPRBenDiNucci082214
Lou Raggiunti I For Trib Total Media
Pine-Richland's Ben DiNucci practices earlier this summer.

When No. 1 Pine-Richland defeated No. 3 Central Catholic, 48-28, in Week 8, the Rams celebrated at Highmark Stadium on the South Side.

Pine-Richland coach Eric Kasperowicz hopes his team can celebrate again across the river Friday at Heinz Field. This time, however, the stakes are much higher — the WPIAL Class AAAA title and a berth in the PIAA playoffs goes to the winner of the contest, which kicks off at 2 p.m.

“It’s a new game,” Kasperowicz said. “The first win was big, but they are still the reigning champions. We have to beat them to get the crown.”

Pine-Richland has dominated everyone it has faced in 2014, especially in playoff wins over Connellsville (63-3), Altoona (49-7) and McKeesport (42-7), all from the Quad East.

Kasperowicz said quarterback Ben DiNucci has been unbelievable.

“He completed 82 percent of his passes or something insane like that,” Kasperowicz said. “Ben is playing really well and so has the offense and defense.”

In the first meeting between the teams, DiNucci completed 20 of 29 passes for 291 yards and two touchdowns.

Running back Connor Slomka rushed for 131 yards and three scores.

Senior wide receivers Michael Merhaut (8 catches, 131 yards, 1 touchdown) and D’Ondre Gastion (7-134-1) also had huge games.

“I don’t know if you can stop them; you hope to slow them down,” Central Catholic coach Terry Totten said. “The quarterback is very good. They are very good at what they do. It’s no easy task.”

After an impressive defensive performance in the quarterfinals, a 28-0 shutout of Woodland Hills, Central Catholic allowed a lot of points in a 52-34 victory last week over Penn-Trafford.

Central Catholic was missing a couple players last week, notably running back Grant Foster, and the Vikings suffered some injuries the first time they played Pine-Richland.

Totten said he hopes to get some of his walking wounded back this week.

Foster would be a big loss if he’s unable to play. He rushed for 156 yards and three touchdowns in the first meeting.

Central Catholic has been decimated in the backfield.

The WPIAL ruled Riley Redman ineligible prior to the season, Ron George injured his leg in a scrimmage against McKeesport, another player transferred and Foster has been out.

Last week against Penn-Trafford, Totten inserted wide receiver John Petrishen into the wildcat, and the senior responded by rushing for 211 yards. Vinny Emanuele also had a big game against Penn-Trafford, rushing for 117 yards.

“I’m proud of this team,” Totten said. “We had a couple players step up. It’s been tough, but we keep finding someone.”

Paul Schofield is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.