Only three years ago, Hempfield finished 1-8. Now, the Spartans enter 2014 coming off a WPIAL playoff appearance, with Pilato playing a big role in that transformation. The towering offensive lineman paved the way for an offense that scored at least 30 points in nearly half of its games last season. Pilato also plays on the school’s basketball team, which went 21-3 last season.
Pilato committed to Pitt in July, meaning he’ll join a group of touted WPIAL linemen that includes Mike Grimm and Alex Bookser who are already with the Panthers. Maryland and West Virginia were his other two finalists.
OUR QUESTIONS, HIS ANSWERS
Was it nice to get the college commitment out of the way before your senior year? Oh yeah, that was my whole plan actually. I just wanted to take my mind off of the recruiting process and just focus on my senior year so I can do the best I can.
Why Pitt? I thought the coaching staff was really good and real genuine people. I like [Jim] Hueber a lot, the offensive line coach. They were the first offer, which was a big thing for me. Staying local, too, was a big part of it, so I can have my family see me play.
Based on his time at Wisconsin and his work so far at Pitt, it seems like the offensive line’s a point of emphasis for Paul Chryst. Do you get that sense? He’s definitely bringing in a lot of big guys. We’re really going to have a huge line coming up here, just a bunch of guys with good size. That’s been one of his things, recruiting wise. He likes to get big guys on the line.
You lost two of your better offensive players in Joey DeFloria and Ty George. Does that put more pressure on you as an offensive lineman? Our line will be a big part to our success this year. We have some guys coming back alongside me. I think we’ll have a really good line this year. We definitely have to be strong this year for us to go far. I think we’ll have a pretty good team this year. A lot of people don’t know about us. We’re ready to take the challenge.
What’s it been like to be part of Hempfield’s rapid improvement in your time there? It’s very exciting. You’re able to be a part of turning the program around the last two years. It’s just really good for our program to be able to make the playoffs.
AND, FINALLY …
People would be surprised to know what about you? I’m a very good cook actually.
Do you have a favorite dish you make? Not really one in particular. Just a bunch of stuff.