Pine-Richland 2015 Football Preview

Written by Keith Barnes on .

It didn't take long before Pine-Richland coach Eric Kasperowicz was faced with a dilemma.

Not only does he have to sort through three competitors to take over at quarterback for Ben DiNucci, he has five running backs — Jimmy Graf (6-0, 190, Sr.), Saige Simpson (5-9, 175, Sr.), Jesse Meckler (5-10, 200, Jr.), Jordan Crawford (5-8, 146, Soph.) and Don Bryant (5-7, 180, Sr.) — vying to replace Connor Slomka.

"Running back might be the most hotly contested position we have, and eventually it will sort itself out," Kasperwicz said. "Whether we go with one or whether we go with four, they all have to be ready to compete and they're all really good guys."

With the number of players vying for key skill positions, Pine-Richland might not have enough balls to go around. And the Rams are having a difficult time figuring out if Brandon Ballay (6-1, 170, Sr.), Max DeVinney (6-3, 180, Jr.) or Phil Jurkovec (6-5, 190, Soph.) will be the one distributing them.


Football: Pine-Richland ready to defend its title

Written by Keith Barnes on .

Keith Barnes profiles the Pine-Richland football team.

"Eric Kasperowicz capped his high school football playing career at North Hills with the 1993 WPIAL and PIAA Class AAAA championships.

About the only thing he didn't have a chance to do during his playing days was defend a title.

Now, as the head coach at Pine-Richland, Kasperowicz and the Rams will have that opportunity.

"If you would have asked me that last year, I probably would have said that I'd be pretty happy because it's just the competitor in me and in all of us because, when you win one, it just makes you hungrier," Kasperowicz said. "Now we're just more driven to get a repeat and anything less will be a disappointment.""



Football: Pine-Richland grad putting it on the line at Thiel

Written by Joe Koch on .

Joe Koch profiles Pine-Richland graduate Reily Shane.

"Thiel College defensive lineman Reily Shane knows what it takes to foil the other team's offense.

"You have to be relentless," said the 6-foot-1, 252-pound senior from Tarentum who played his high school football at Highlands High School. "You can't think about anything. You have to go. That's it. You have to have a motor with you. You can't give up. You just have to keep on moving."

Not giving up is something Shane and his Tomcats teammates will strive to do following a 2014 season that saw them finish with an overall record of 4-6 and a 3-5 mark against Presidents' Athletic Conference rivals.

"The last couple of seasons, things haven't really gone our way," Shane said. "The ball didn't bounce our way, and we made some mistakes where we couldn't make those mistakes and shouldn't make those mistakes. To turn it around, we need to have a little bit of luck and not make as many mistakes as we have in the past. When we did make mistakes, they came at terrible times. If we can just limit those altogether, we can turn some things around.""



Wrestling: Pine-Richland's Baxter shines at Disney

Written by Ken Wunderley on .

Ken Wunderley profiles Pine-Richland wrestler Hunter Baxter. Read his story below.

Hunter Baxter had made previous trips to Disney World, but this time was quite a different experience.

Baxter, who recently completed his sophomore year at Pine-Richland High School, competed with the Young Guns Wrestling Club at the AAU Scholastic National Duals, which took place June 27 through July 2 in Kissimmee, Fla.

"I've been to Disney World two or three times with my family, but this was my first time at the Disney Duals," said Baxter, a two-year starter and two-time PIAA qualifier for the Rams.

The tournament, more commonly referred to as the Disney Duals, took place at ESPN's Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World Resort. Young Guns fielded three teams in the District Division, Black, White and Gold.


Baseball: 2015 Minor League Update - Blake Lalli (Pine-Richland)

Written by John Perrotto on .

(Sports Town is featuring updates on WPIAL baseball players who are currently playing in the major or minor leagues. The posts were compiled by veteran baseball writer John Perrotto. We will feature two players every day.)

Blake Lalli is trying to work his way back to the major leagues as a catcher with the Arizona Diamondbacks' Class AAA Reno farm club in the Pacific Coast League.

The Pine-Richland graduate is hitting .243 in 44 games with four doubles, 16 RBIs, a .297 on-base percentage and a .271 slugging percentage. The 32-year-old has also pitched once in relief, working one scoreless innings.

Lalli appeared in a combined 22 major league games with the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers during the 2012 and 2013 seasons, hitting .128.

In 10 minor league seasons, he has batted .290 with 55 home runs.