A three-year starter, senior quarterback Ben DiNucci has already thrown for 3,350 yards and 26 touchdowns in his high school career, leading a Pine-Richland squad that has plenty of talented players returning.
By Mike White / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
This is the Big Ben of WPIAL quarterbacks. A starter since his sophomore year, DiNucci has thrown for 3,350 yards in two seasons (270 completions, 408 attempts) and 26 touchdowns. In 2013, he was 167 of 233 for 2,131 yards and 15 touchdowns. DiNucci is one of the main reasons Pine-Richland believes it will make some noise in Class AAAA this year. Ten starters return on offense and eight on defense. DiNucci was born in Atlanta, moved to Columbus, Ohio, for a while, then to the Pine-Richland district. He didn’t play football until seventh grade and also starts on Pine-Richland’s basketball team.
DiNucci already has made a commitment to Penn of the Ivy League. He turned down scholarship offers from NCAA Division I-A schools Akron, New Mexico State and Old Dominion.
OUR QUESTIONS, HIS ANSWERS
Pine-Richland really hasn’t done anything since moving up to Class AAAA in 2008. Why should anyone believe this year will be different? Well, we have a lot of starters back, and just because the amount of work everyone put in during the offseason, the dedication to films, lifting weights and practices. There is a lot of intensity, lots of energy. The coaches, and all of us, realize this is kind of our last go at it. We all realize a lot of us have been playing since we were sophomores. We’ve got nine regular-season games and whatever else.
So, you guys really think you can win the WPIAL? Definitely. The coaches believe it, and the players believe it. I don’t know if the community believes it, but they’ll see.
What will be the key? Defense. Our offense was proven last year. The last three or four games last year, our defense was smacking people around. If the defense can pick up where it left off, that will be a big key.
So you never played football until seventh grade? I think I was kind of a little scared to play. I was always a lot smaller and I wasn’t used to hitting when I was younger. My parents didn’t want me to get hurt, so I said seventh grade might be the year.
You used to play baseball. Why’d you give that up? I just lost my love for the game. It kind of wore me out, traveling all the time in the summer with those tournament teams and things.
Your “go-to” movie? I like “Step Brothers” and anything with Adam Sandler in it.
The best player you ever played against? [Linebacker] Niko Thorpe from Central Catholic. He hit me so hard last year at the end of the third quarter. He knocked me out of the game and my elbow was like a baseball.
Should LeBron have gone back to Cleveland? Yeah. I think Kyrie Irving is an unbelievable point guard there [with the Cavaliers] and I think they want to win a championship. I think LeBron was more fun to watch in Cleveland than Miami. I think it was more fun watch him take over games in Cleveland.
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