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Mars 2.0

Mars' Evan Wright returns this season after leading the Planets in rushing yards and touchdowns in 2021. Eagle File Photo
Planets seek reboot following disappointment last season

ADAMS TWP — The Mars football team was out of sorts last year and, for the first time in 17 seasons, on the outside looking in when the WPIAL playoffs rolled around.

The Planets struggled to a 2-8 record, with a victory over Plum coming by forfeit.

“We’re very eager to get this program back in the postseason, but we also want to do something once we get there,” said junior running back Evan Wright, who rushed for 621 yards and scored four touchdowns a year ago. “It’s been a while since Mars won a playoff game.”

Seven years to be exact, but the team has been invigorated by new head coach Eric Kasperowicz, who takes over for longtime Mars mentor Scott Heinauer.

“I wasn’t hired until April, so it wasn’t a full offseason for us,” said Kasperowicz. “But the kids have bought in and understand what we need to do.

“I’m excited with how competitive they’ve been in practice and the attitude they bring every day. We’re gonna go out and give it our all.”

Kasperowicz brings with him a spread, hurry-up offensive scheme that he fine-tuned while at Pine-Richland.

“Installing it is a process,” he said. “Obviously, if you have kids who have been running it for five years, things are going to move faster. We haven’t implemented all of the offense, but as the season goes on, we’ll be able to throw in a few wrinkles.”

Coach Kasperowicz’s son, Eric, is set to take over as the starting quarterback.

“He’s only a sophomore, but is a smart, athletic kid,” the coach said. “He is able to make all the throws and can run the offense efficiently.”

Wright will be counted on to handle much of the load in the running game, but Garrett Heatherington and Carlos Orr should get their share of opportunities.

Luka Moran and Alex Jablunovsky will lead an offensive line that needs to gel.

“The guys up front are working hard,” Coach Kasperowicz said. “We don’t have any 300-pounders, but you don’t need that to be successful. It just comes down to understanding leverage and angles.”

Noah Nesselroad, Hayden Mayer, Jacob Maple and last year’s quarterback, Rafael Bartley, should provide Kasperowicz with a solid group of receivers to throw to. Mayer excelled as a receiver and defensive back last year and was voted Team MVP.

Senior middle linebacker Jack Hull is back after leading the team in tackles as a junior. Connor Hartle should be a key at defensive end.

Sam Stewart, a soccer player, is slated to be the team’s kicker. Mason Childress will be punting for the Planets.

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