South Xtra: Peters follows its do-it-all senior

HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL

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Peters Township's Andrew Erenberg already has been offered a couple of scholarships to play football in college, and he figures to receive quite a few more this autumn.

Although colleges are increasingly almost-exclusively recruiting him as a running back, Erenberg isn't the type to argue if, at some point, he's ultimately viewed as a defensive player.

Then again, if the way Erenberg is playing for Indians coach Rich Piccinini is any indication, perhaps Erenberg will, in fact, attempt to persuade college coaches to let him play defense.

Offense and defense.

"Coming off the field, it's kind of heartbreaking," Erenberg said. "Just one play on the sidelines getting a drink, it's tough. I've grown up playing both sides of the ball, 48 minutes a game. It's something I always grew up with feeling, and coach Piccinini has kept me in the games as much as he needs me. It's worked out. It's part of my nature, I guess."

"He's our workhorse," Piccinini said. "He wants to be the workhorse ... His makeup, if he is out of the game for a play, he'll say, 'I don't want to come out of the game. I don't need a break. Put me back in there.'

"He's a tremendously hard worker who is the kind of player who will play wherever it takes on the field for however long."

Erenberg is one of the WPIAL's top rushers with 432 yards and eight touchdowns in three games for Peters Township (2-1), which completes the non-conference portion of its schedule by playing host to Class AAA West Mifflin Area (3-0) 7:30 p.m. Friday.

The Indians have won their past two games, including a 49-14 triumph against Kittanning on Friday in which Erenberg had 225 rushing yards and four touchdowns.

The son of former Steelers running back Rich Erenberg and also a standout for the Peters Township powerhouse baseball program, Andrew is a burly 5 feet 10, 200 pounds. Piccinini said he can bench press 350 pounds and he has been timed running a 4.5-second 40-yard dash.

"He's definitely a natural athlete," Piccinini said. "He came [to workouts] as soon as baseball season ended, showed up and we threw the ball and ran some stuff and it was like he never missed a day and never skipped a beat.

"Obviously that natural talent is there; I'm sure he has great bloodlines. But the thing about him is that he's that good of an athlete, but he's also a tremendously hard worker, and that adds up to make him the player he is for us."

That, and other intangibles.

"He leads on the field and off," Piccinini said. "We will go as far as he takes us."

Erenberg and lineman Clayton Evans were the only returning starters heading into the season, and Erenberg took that situation and embraced it.

"It was tough losing that senior class last year. It was such a great class," Erenberg said. "But Clayton and all the seniors have done a great job leading this team. I just am part of that."

Erenberg attended Central Catholic as a freshman and is a three-year starter for Peters Township. He had 1,031 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns last season.

Erenberg's father played in 46 games for the Steelers from 1984-86. Genes weren't the only thing Rich Erenberg passed down to his son.

"It was nice having my dad, knowing he played so many years of football," Andrew said. "He helps out my brother [Mike, a sophomore wide receiver/defensive back for the Indians] and I.

"It's not so much living up to the expectations he set; it's just seeing what it takes getting to that level of play, how hard he worked in high school and in college and how that [led to the NFL] opportunity, and how hard work pays off."

Rich Erenberg played at Colgate, and his son could be following him to be playing at the Division I-AA level.

Of course, Kent State of the I-A Mid-American Conference has offered him a scholarship, too.

"Andrew is definitely our leader," Piccinini said. "He's our hardest worker, our fastest player, our strongest player.

"He came in with this attitude that he was going to lead. He leads by example and he leads by what he says to his teammates. Everyone listens to him. He's well-respected, and he's also a great baseball player. For us, he's always willing to carry the load."

About the only thing Piccinini asks of Erenberg that he's not eager to do is come out of the game.



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