Coach Scott Heinauer has led the Planets to 13 playoff appearances in 14 years. The Planets have made seven consecutive postseason appearances since moving up to Class AAA. Mars tied for third place in the Greater Allegheny Conference title last season and finished with a 7-4 record after losing to Thomas Jefferson in the WPIAL quarterfinals.
"Our goal every year is to win the conference," Heinauer said. "But it will not be easy in such a strong conference. Franklin Regional has to be considered the favorite. Gateway, Hampton, Knoch and Indiana also have a good group of kids back. The addition of Armstrong [merger of Kittanning and Ford City] should make the conference even stronger."
Six starters are back on offense, including tailbacks Isaiah Johnson (5-10, 180, Jr., RB-CB) and Eli Brooks (6-0, 190, Sr., RB-DB). Johnson rushed for 506 yards on 82 carries last season. Brooks missed half of the season with injury. Max Chizmar (6-3, 215, Jr., RB-LB) and Nate Rosswog (5-9, 150, Sr., RB) are also in the mix. Rosswog had 223 yards on 35 carries last year.
"We lost three running backs to injuries last season," Heinauer said. "We would have won the conference if it wasn't for the injury to Josh Schultheis. He had 71 in the first quarter of our first game when he got injured."