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Pine-Richland relishes WPIAL championship win

Kevin Lohman
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Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review
Pine Richland head Eric Kasperowicz hugs his son Eric Kasperowicz after beating Seneca Valley in the 5A WPIAL championship game Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018 at Heinz Field.
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Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review
Pine Richland’s Michael Katic holds the WPIAL 5A Championship trophy after beating Seneca Valley Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018 at Heinz Field.
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Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review
Pine Richland’s Michael Katic dumps water on head coach Eric Eric Kasperowicz after beating Seneca Valley in the 5A WPIAL championship game Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018 at Heinz Field.
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Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review
Pine Richland’s Michael Katic holds the WPIAL championship trophy after beating Seneca Valley in the 5A WPIAL championship game Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018 at Heinz Field.
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Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review
Pine Richland head coach Eric Kasperowicz gets the Gator Aid bath after beating Seneca Valley the 5A WPIAL championship game Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018 at Heinz Field.
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Pine Richland celebrates after beating Seneca Valley in the WPIAL Class 5 A championship game at Heinz Field.

For the third time in the last five years, and for the second season in a row, the Pine-Richland football team won the WPIAL’s largest classification. This time, the Rams knocked off Seneca Valley, 34-7, in the Class 6A title game Nov. 16 at Heinz Field.

Throughout the first half, it was a closely played contest between the Rams (10-2) and the Raiders as a 29-yard touchdown pass from Cole Spencer to Luke Miller on a flea flicker separated the teams.

But then the second half got started, and the Rams began to heat up. To open the third quarter, the Pine-Richland offense marched down the field on a 10-play drive that covered 76 yards and culminated in a 16-yard scoring run by Spencer. A few minutes later, Spencer pushed the lead to 21-0 on a 3-yard run that capped off a nine-play, 94-yard drive.

From then on, even coach Eric Kasperowicz had to admit he was having fun.

“Once the game gets in hand, it’s definitely a lot more fun, no doubt,” he said.

“It’s exciting altogether. It’s such a tremendous experience playing at Heinz Field. It’s, what, our third time in five years? And it’s still like being a kid on Christmas morning. Once the game gets going, you kind of get in the flow of things and forget about everything else but once we put those drives together, it becomes a lot more enjoyable. It makes you relax a little bit more and take everything in.”

While plenty of attention is devoted to the sophomore studs — Spencer, Miller and Caden Schweiger — who accounted for touchdowns in the WPIAL title victory, the Rams’ senior class served as the tip of the spear in their charge toward a championship.

One senior, Shane Cafardi, scored on a 50-yard touchdown pass from Spencer. However, plenty of other seniors impacted the game in ways that aren’t evident when glancing at the box score. Whether it was Andrew Kristofic, Michael Dorundo and Michael Katic driving the offense with their play on the line or linebackers Tyler King and Anthony Cerminara stonewalling the Seneca Valley offense, their quiet contributions were invaluable to their coach.

“Those guys, the seniors, they’re doing the dirty work and they may not be scoring the touchdowns but the guys all understand who is making things possible,” Kasperowicz said.

“Plus, with the younger guys out there, they get to play with the big-brother mentality. They’re out there, lined up and doing their thing but they know they got their big brothers — the seniors — out there looking after them, and that helps them get comfortable out there.”

Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.

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