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Goodworth leading air attack for Mars

Passing Time

ADAMS TWP — It was in June when Luke Goodworth learned that he would be the starting quarterback for Mars this season.

Eric Kasperowicz, last year’s starter, had shoulder surgery over the summer and his ability to throw had been severely impacted. Goodworth, who had completed just 12 of 30 passes in a backup role in 2022, had a modest approach as the current season got underway.

“I just wanted to play as well as I could and help the team win,” he said.

Mars junior quarterback Luke Goodworth talks with teammate Evan Wright
Mars junior quarterback Luke Goodworth (15) talks with teammate Evan Wright during a game this season. Goodworth broke Mars’ record for passing yards in a single season and is an integral part of a potent offense as the Planets prepare to take on Aliquippa in a WPIAL semifinal on Friday. Shane Potter/Butler Eagle

Now, three months later, Goodworth and the Planets find themselves in the WPIAL’s final four. They will take on Aliquippa in a Class 4A semifinal Friday at North Allegheny’s Newman Stadium.

Goodworth, a junior, enters the game with 2,052 passing yards and 20 touchdowns with just five interceptions. He broke the school record for passing yards in a single season last month.

“He played really well for the junior varsity team last year and with Eric unable to go, it was next man up,” said Mars coach Eric Kasperowicz. “We’re really excited with how he’s done. With as good as our running game is, Luke knows he doesn’t have to go out and win games, just don’t lose them. He’s been pretty darn good at that, has taken care of the ball.”

Goodworth proved he was ready for the challenge of being the starter. In the first five games of the season, he passed for 1,064 yards, 10 TDs and no interceptions.

“Different guys were making plays and that helped a lot,” he said. “Evan (Wright, star running back) was able to open things up for the passing game and I think our ability to throw the ball took some pressure off of him.”

Coach Kasperowicz is in his second season of leading the Planets.

“Formation-wise, we’re running a spread, the same exact offense as last year,” he said. “But how we attack a defense has changed. Eric is more mobile, so now when we call an RPO (run-pass option), if Luke keeps the ball, we’re looking to pass.

“That’s on us coaches ... to form a gameplan that highlights the strengths of the players on the field.”

The passing game had to adjust after leading receiver Gabe Hein (43 catches for 774 yards and 8 scores) was lost to injury late in the regular season.

Wright (17-260-4), Cole Yoshioka (12-160-2) and Liam Hein (23-177), among others, have combined to help fill the void.

Goodworth credits the offensive line, which is led by Greater Allegheny Conference first-teamers Isaak Winters and Sean Franklin.

“We have to get off the ball quickly on Friday,” Goodworth said. “If we block well, that will allow our skill guys to make plays.

“This season has been a lot of fun, looking forward to Friday nights and going out and succeeding with the other guys.”

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