Pine-Richland High School football coach Erick Kasperowicz knows a thing or two about football.
And what the third-year coach knows about Notre Dame’s newest commitment should turn heads. Kasperowicz believes that sophomore quarterback Phil Jurkovec is more than just another get for the Irish.
Kasperowicz, a four-year starter at quarterback who led North Hills High School to a 4A Pennsylvania state championship before lettering at linebacker for four years at Pittsburgh, believes the Irish landed a rare talent in Jurkovec.
“He's a complete quarterback,” Kasperowicz said. “He can make every throw on the field and he can hurt you with his legs and athleticism. He's a student of the game. He really has worked hard in understanding the game of football and reading defenses. He's getting really good at our offense and doing what we ask him to do and he'll continue to improve over the next couple of years.”
Jurkovec dominated at the freshman level in 2014 before bumping up to lead the varsity squad as a sophomore. He became just the second Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League player to pass for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 in a single season in leading the Rams to a 10-2 record.
He quickly proved to his coach that his success at the freshman level would carry over to the varsity.
“As a freshman he still played ninth grade ball. He obviously tore it up down there,” Kasperowicz said. “The only thing we worried about was the speed of the game and whatnot, but he didn't miss a beat coming up as a sophomore playing varsity in the toughest league of the state. He came up and had a great season. He led the offense to the most prolific year in the history of the state of Pennsylvania. He obviously had a great, great handle on what we were trying to do and ran the offense to perfection.”
Jurkovec completed 176-of-264 passes (67-percent) for 2,560 yards and 20 touchdowns to just four interceptions. He also led the team in rushing with 130 carries for 1,250 yards and 11 scores.
He averaged just over 10 carries per game.
“We try to limit that,” Kasperowicz said. “Obviously we want to try to prevent injury, so it depends on who we're playing but maybe five to 10 are called touches and they're always will be another five that are manufactured by a scramble or broken play.”
Jurkovec’s physical abilities are enhanced by his work ethic.
He spends countless hours watching film and studying the offense and he leads his teammates by example.
“I think that's probably his best attribute,” Kasperowicz said. “He's a born leader. Kids follow him and flock to him. He's probably the hardest worker and most competitive kid we have on the team. That’s the beauty of it. Every day in the weight room he's the hardest kid we've got, working and pushing himself. That's good for the rest of the team because if your best player and a kid going to Notre Dame is working that hard it picks everybody else up to. I have no doubt he'll continue to do that.”