Mars wins alumni grid game
Butler Eagle
Written by:
October 3, 2012

ADAMS TWP — There was a who's who in Mars football annals on the field Sunday night at the Mars Athletic Complex.

And nobody enjoyed it more than Scott Heinauer.

“This is great,” the longtime Planets coach said of the alumni game against Pine-Richland. “This shows how much these guys love football and still want to play.

“I coached most of these kids. Actually, they're men now. But they still enjoy being out here.”

Eric Guzak threw three touchdown passes in the first half and Mars held off a late Pine-Richland rally to post a 20-16 victory in front of approximately 500 people.

The game was arranged through Alumni Football USA, a national organization headed by Robert Bishop that puts on high school alumni games. Alumni Football USA has put on 33 such games this year.

“It was fun coming back on this field and tossing the football around again,” Guzak said. “When you don't go on to play college ball, you feel the void in your life when you walk off the high school field for the last time.”

Guzak through touchdown passes of five and 63 yards to Brad Weischedel and a 26-yard TD pass to Josh Keil, all in the first half. Weischedel and Guzak were former Mars teammates while Keil graduated five years ago. Keil caught a conversion pass from Guzak as well.

“I don't think I've ever thrown three touchdown passes in a game here,” Guzak said. “I owe a lot to Brad. He made a diving catch in the end zone tonight that was one of the best catches I've ever seen.”

Guzak was named the offensive MVP for Mars. Defensive MVP was Adam Fichter, a 2001 Mars graduate who put the team together.

Fichter works on a farm seven days a week, coaches the defensive line for the Mars High School team now and only had 31 days to put an alumni roster together.

“It was well worth it,” he said. “I called some guys I knew, they called guys they knew. I sent out mass e-mails and we got it done.”

Mars had six practices together before taking the field against Pine-Richland.

“I always wanted to play a football game with Chuck Green,” Fichter said. “He was a standout on the 1996 team that played in the WPAL championship at Three Rivers Stadium. Tonight, I was able to do that.

“Billy Bair (2008 graduate) told Brandon Mueller (2000) in the huddle that he idolized him when he played and how excited he was to be on the field with him.

“Nobody got hurt bad tonight and everyone walked off the field smiling. That's what this was about,” Fichter added.

The oldest player in the game was Jeff Astbury, 54, a Mt. Lebanon graduate who coaches Mars youth football. He saw some action on special teams.

“I just love football and getting a chance to put on the pads and play in front of my kids is a thrill,” Astbury said. “I played in the last game, (2010 vs. Knoch) and loved every minute of that one, too.”

Astbury is an anesthesiologist at Butler Memorial Hospital.

“If I break any bones tonight, I know people who can help me,” he joked.

Jeremy Greenwalt and Eric King were the Pine-Richland MVPs. Greenwalt caught six passes for 113 yards and two touchdowns. The Rams sacked Guzak for a safety with 3:55 left and Greenwalt caught a 34-yard scoring pass from King with 1:45 to play.

The Rams' on-side kick attempt failed and Mars held on for the win when Bair rambled 13 yards for the game's final first down. Dan King added 66 yards on seven carries for the Planets.

“The guys on this field are responsible for Mars football being what it is today,” Heinauer said. “They helped turn it into a winning program.”

And they plan to win again.

“This game will hold us for another year,” Fichter said. “We'll be ready to go again. I've talked to the Pine-Richland captain and we plan to make this annual game.”