When Pine-Richland kicks off against Fox Chapel in the season opener Aug. 30, Eric Kasperowicz will be making his head coaching debut.
But the new Rams' head coach has plenty of wisdom to draw from after learning from two of the best in Western Pennsylvania history over the past 20 years -- Jack McCurry and Clair Altemus.
"They are very different, but both very successful," Kasperowicz said. "I learned a lot of lessons from both of them that I will use."
Kasperowicz played for McCurry at North Hills in the early 1990s, helping the Indians win the WPIAL and PIAA titles in 1993 as the starting quarterback and linebacker. He went on to become a four-year letter winner at the University of Pittsburgh.
He then returned to his alma mater as an assistant coach under McCurry, who retired after this past season with a career 281-108-9 record in 35 years. He won four WPIAL titles and the 1993 state title. His 1987 team finished No. 1 in the country in the USA Today rankings.
"Being able to learn from Jack McCurry, you can't put a number on that experience," said Kasperowicz. "He's one of the best coaches in Pennsylvania and in high school football history."
After 11 years at North Hills, Kasperowicz left to become the offensive coordinator at Pine-Richland in 2011, where he has coached under Altemus for the past two seasons. Altemus was 106-65 with the Rams, winning a WPIAL Class AAA title and finishing as the PIAA runner-up in 2003.
But the Rams haven't won a playoff game since moving up to Class AAAA in 2008 and have just a 18-30 record over that time, including a 4-5 mark last season.
So Kasperowicz will try to put his own mark on the Rams program.
"I'm going to tweak a few things," Kasperowicz said. "There's a new face to Pine-Richland football and I'm going to try and put my own stamp on it. We'll have a different look and all that but we'll still do a lot of the things that have been done in the past."
The Rams will return 11 players who started as sophomores last season, including quarterback Ben DiNucci and 1,000-yard rusher Connor Slomka.
Kasperowicz has high hopes for his first season.
"We'll always have high expectations here, no matter what we have returning," Kasperowicz said. "But we do have six starters on offense and five on defense who were sophomores last season returning. They were able to get great experience last season and we'll be relying on them and our seniors a lot. Our expectations are high."
It won't be easy, however, playing in the same conference as defending PIAA and three-time WPIAL Class AAAA champion North Allegheny, as well as 2012 WPIAL semifinalist Seneca Valley and perennial powers Central Catholic and North Hills.
Of course, the Indians will also be going through a transition this season, with longtime North Hills assistant Pat Carey replacing McCurry.
Kasperowicz said it will be different when the Rams take on North Hills on Oct. 18 and he doesn't see McCurry standing on the sidelines.
But it's just a sign of the times.
"It's definitely going to be weird," Kasperowicz said. "He was there for 30-plus years. But there's always a time to move on. It's a new generation now."