At least one member of the Goodworth family has walked the Mars football sideline for the better part of the past three decades.
The trend started with Dave Goodworth, who — as an assistant on former Planets coach Scott Heinauer’s staff for 28 of his 30 seasons — often brought his son, Luke, along to games and practices.
“I was brought into the program real young,” said Luke Goodworth, now a junior at Mars. “Just watching the teams go up, and getting older, and realizing now I’m finally in high school — it means a lot.”
Now Goodworth is making the most of his opportunity to migrate from the sideline to the front line for the Planets full time.
Goodworth is in his first full season as Mars’ starting quarterback. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound signal caller completed 9-of-18 passes for 174 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Planets to a dominant 38-0 victory against Armstrong Friday night at Mars Athletic Complex in the first of three consecutive critical Greater Allegheny Conference games to close out the regular season.
“He’s always been on the sidelines,” said Planets senior running back Evan Wright of Goodworth. “His dad coached. I always remember seeing him here. He deserves it. He really does. He worked really hard for this, and he really deserves it.”
Goodworth helped first-place Mars (6-2, 4-0) break open a scoreless tie against Armstrong (5-3, 2-2) when he connected with Wright for what would hold up as the game’s decisive touchdown, a 48-yard scoring strike with 1:35 left in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Goodworth set the Planets’ all-time single-season passing record with a 35-yard touchdown pass to senior H-back Jacob Maple.
“I’ve got a lot of faith in my quarterback,” said Wright, after rushing for 146 yards and two additional scores on the ground Friday night. “I grew up with him. I played with him when I was younger. He’s always been able to sling it, and I trust his decisions. He knows what he’s doing. Everything he sees is always the right move. I trust him a lot.”
Goodworth has now passed for more than 1,500 yards and 17 touchdowns with just two interceptions.
“It means a lot,” said Goodworth of holding the Planets’ single-season passing mark. “I’ve been on the sidelines since I was young. My dad was a coach here so it feels great to have it. I’ve got to keep working and picking those yards up.”
If not for offseason surgery on previous Mars quarterback Eric Kasperowicz Jr.’s throwing shoulder, Goodworth might still be on the Planets’ sideline.
Kasperowicz passed for 1,353 yards and 13 touchdowns and rushed for 401 yards as a sophomore last fall.
Planets coach Eric Kasperowicz Sr. said he is pleased with Goodworth’s development.
“[No. 15] is pretty damn good,” Kasperowicz said. “It’s a surprise coming in as a backup and having to step in. We kind of knew early in August that Eric couldn’t throw, and we had to make some changes. For him to come in and play how he’s playing, I couldn’t be prouder of him.”
Goodworth saw his first action as a freshman in 2021, passing for 52 yards and two interceptions. He completed 12-of-30 passes for 87 yards in a spot start for an injured Kasperowicz Jr. last fall.
“That’s what it’s all about,” Kasperowicz said. “It’s next man up mentality, and Luke has done a tremendous job. We can run it, we can throw it and play good defense. Good things will happen.”
And that has certainly been the case for the Mars offense this fall.
The Planets, who are averaging 40.8 points per game, are led by Wright, who has now rushed for 1,078 yards and a WPIAL-best 24 touchdowns.
“That’s what he does game after game, but you can’t say Evan without offensive line,” Kasperowicz said. “They’ve been tremendous, three sophomores and a junior starting up there and they’re just getting better every week.
“[No. 2] is just a stalwart,” he added of Wright. “He just works, works, works and eventually things start to pop up for him. It was tough sledding tonight early and then he finally popped a couple.”
Mars has also received major contributions from sophomore Gabe Hein, who is among the WPIAL’s top targets in the passing game.
Hein was injured early in the first quarter of Friday night’s game and did not return.
“We’re so good because we have so many options,” Wright said. “We have great receivers who are always open. If they go down we’ve got guys who can go in and take action, they step up when they need to. We have a great offensive line. Our quarterback is incredible. He can sit in the pocket and he can launch it. The spread offense with our players works perfectly.”
The Planets offense will need to be on point over the final two weeks of the regular season if it hopes to bring home victories against Hampton (3-5, 3-1) and North Catholic (4-4, 3-1).
Both teams trail Mars in the Greater Allegheny Conference standings.
“It’s year two,” said Kasperowicz, who earned an 85-18 record with four WPIAL championships and two PIAA titles in eight seasons at Pine-Richland. “We’re rolling. We’ve finally got it kind of going. The kids finally understand the tempo, the expectations of how to play, how to practice, more importantly how to practice, and that carries over to a game.
“We’re not where we want to be, but we’re on the right track.”
Goodworth said he is hoping that track will lead to big things for the program in which he grew up.
“Definitely our first goal is to win the conference, then get in the playoffs and see how far we can go in the playoffs,” he said.