Thursday, June 30, 2022 | 3:53 p.m.
Editor’s note: The Tribune-Review and the TribLive High School Sports Network profile each member of the 25-man Trib HSSN preseason football all-star squad. Players will be recognized on July 15 during HSSN Media Day at Kennywood Park.
Central Catholic football players have grown accustomed to vying for WPIAL titles.
They also got used to winning them.
After winning back-to-back district crowns in 2019-20, the Vikings lost to Mount Lebanon, 47-7, last fall in the final, resulting in a long and disappointing offseason. That loss also motivated the returning Vikings, including junior receiver Peter Gonzalez.
“I think we can be back to where we were last year,” said Gonzalez, who transferred from Mars after his freshman season and made an immediate impact at Central Catholic last fall. “A win this year is definitely in the picture and a deep state run. We were young last year and we lost a few seniors, but I think we will come back just as strong this year.
The Vikings have played for a WPIAL championship eight times since 2013, winning five titles during that span. These are lofty goals to achieve every season, but something Central Catholic players consider an expectation.
Gonzalez will play a key role in that effort. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound wide had 18 catches for 322 yards and four scores last season, taking advantage of shifts all over the field.
“I have good body control on the ground and in the air, which I think makes it easier for my quarterback to know I can get him,” Gonzalez said. “In addition to my height, I’m taller than most DBs I’ve faced over the course of the year, which gives me an edge.”
Center Catholic coach Terry Totten cited Gonzalez’s work ethic, coaching ability and ball skills among his strengths, areas Gonzalez continues to hone as the season approaches.
“My biggest improvement is in terrain awareness and road running,” he said. “I relied a lot on my athleticism, but I got more technical.”
College coaches noticed Gonzalez’s skills and potential. The rising junior offers scholarships from 13 Division I schools, including Pitt, Penn State, West Virginia, Miami, Virginia Tech and Wisconsin.
He’s been making visits over the past few months, getting to know coaches and programs, hoping to find the right fit for him and his family.
“It was nothing but enjoyable,” Gonzalez said of the recruiting process. “Going to college and seeing what they have to offer will help me figure out what I want to do with my life.
“I’m looking for a mix of football and academics. Both are important to me. The school with the perfect balance is at the top of my list.
His father, former Pitt quarterback Pete Gonzalez, helped with the details of the recruiting. He threw for 3,532 yards and 36 touchdowns with the Panthers between 1993 and 1997. He led the Big East with 2,657 yards and 30 touchdowns in 1997.
“He’s been there,” said young Gonzalez, whose grandfather, Rod Kirby, was a Pitt linebacker in the 1970s. and what to assess during my visits. He helped me keep a cool head and decide what I want to do for my future.
With two years of high school remaining, the future is still a long way off, but Gonzalez is taking steps to ensure he has promise.
Bill Hartlep is the sports editor of the Tribune-Review. You can contact Bill at [email protected] or via Twitter @BHartlep_Trib.
Tags: Central Catholic