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‘Huddle Up with Gus’: Eric Kasperowicz remembers ex-North Hills coach Jack McCurry

Eric Kasperowicz recalled the influence his high school coach had on him as a player and even today as a coach at Pine-Richland.

“Coach Jack McCurry, one of the best in the whole country, if not the best,” Kasperowicz said during the second part of this week’s episode of the “Huddle Up with Gus” podcast. “Learned a lot of values and lessons from him. … I was able to coach under him for a number of years.”

Kasperowicz said much of how he conducts business as a coach today he learned from McCurry.

“We try to stay as cutting edge as we can. I think we’re cutting edge, trying to stay one step ahead of everybody else,” Kasperowicz said. “When I got (to Pine-Richland), I knew we couldn’t beat Central Catholic and North Allegheny because we didn’t have those monster kids. We’re a very small 6A school. We had to find our niche.

“Our niche was to spread them out and use skill a little bit. … That’s kind of been our recipe for success.”

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Coming Wednesday: Part 3 with Eric Kasperowicz

‘Huddle Up with Gus’: Pine-Richland coach Eric Kasperowicz recalls getting his football start

Eric Kasperowicz remembers being a sixth-grader in the North Hills School District in 1987 and watching the high school football team win the mythical national championship.

“Looking up to those guys, they were like my idols. (I thought to myself) ‘I’m going to do that one day,’” Kasperowicz said in this week’s edition of the podcast, “Huddle Up with Gus” with Gus Frerotte and Dave Hager.

Kasperowicz has enjoyed his share of success, as a player and coach. Under Kasperowicz’s guidance, Pine-Richland won the 2017 PIAA football title and finished second in the state in 2014. The Rams have won three of the past five WPIAL titles, including the past two.

Kasperowicz was named a 1993 Parade All-American and played quarterback and linebacker at Pitt.

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Coming Tuesday: Part 2 with Eric Kasperowicz

‘Huddle Up with Gus’: Going one-on-one with Kevin Rabbitt

What is Kevin Rabbitt’s biggest pet peeve? What athlete would he trade places with? Who was the best player he ever faced? Who is the most famous contact in his phone?

Rabbitt goes one-on-one with Gus Frerotte and Dave Hager in this week’s “Huddle Up with Gus” podcast.

Rabbitt, an Overland Park, Kan., native, is chairman and CEO of Harmar-based NEP Group, a worldwide outsourced technical production partner that supports producers for live sports and entertainment.

‘Huddle Up with Gus’: Kevin Rabbitt discusses life after basketball

Kevin Rabbitt’s company, Harmar-based NEP Group, is behind the scenes of many sporting events you watch. But his post-athletic career started much differently.

Rabbitt, an Overland Park, Kan., native, is chairman and CEO of NEP Group, a worldwide outsourced technical production partner that supports producers for live sports and entertainment.

He joined Gus Frerotte and Dave Hager in this week’s “Huddle Up with Gus” podcast.

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Coming Friday: Part 5 with Kevin Rabbitt

‘Huddle Up with Gus’ podcast: Kevin Rabbitt discusses facing Michigan’s Fab 5

Kevin Rabbitt knows what it’s like to guard Jalen Rose.

Rabbitt, then a guard at Rice, faced Michigan’s Fab Five team that entered the 1992-93 season ranked No. 1.

“My very first game at Rice … this was a big moment, we played (our) opening game (on ESPN), we played the Fab Five when they were sophomores,” Rabbitt said.

Rice eventually lost by four points, but it’s a memory that Rabbitt recalled fondly.

Rabbitt, an Overland Park, Kan., native, is chairman and CEO of NEP Group in Harmar, a worldwide outsourced technical production partner that supports producers for live sports and entertainment.

He joined Gus Frerotte and Dave Hager for this week’s “Huddle Up with Gus” podcast.

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Coming Thursday: Part 4 with Kevin Rabbitt

‘Huddle Up with Gus’ podcast: Kevin Rabbitt grows into a Division I prospect in Kansas

Kevin Rabbitt’s company, Harmar-based NEP Group, is behind the scenes of many sporting events you watch.

Rabbitt, an Overland Park, Kan., native, is chairman and CEO of NEP Group, a worldwide outsourced technical production partner that supports producers for live sports and entertainment.

In part two of this week’s “Huddle Up with Gus” podcast with Gus Frerotte and Dave Hager, Rabbitt talks about his athletic development in soccer and basketball between eighth grade and high school, particularly as a freshman. He credits his coaches that season for helping him to develop his skills that eventually led him to play basketball at Rice.

Rabbitt also discusses the basketball competition he faced in the area, with as many as two dozen Division I prospects during his senior year.

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Coming Wednesday: Part 3 with Kevin Rabbitt

‘Huddle Up with Gus’: Gus Frerotte talks with Harmar-based NEP Group CEO Kevin Rabbitt

Kevin Rabbitt’s company, Harmar-based NEP Group, is behind the scenes of many sporting events you watch.

Rabbitt, an Overland Park, Kan., native, is chairman and CEO of NEP Group, a worldwide outsourced technical production partner that supports producers for live sports and entertainment.

He joined Gus Frerotte and Dave Hager in the “Huddle Up with Gus” podcast to discuss what it was like growing up in Kansas, his love of sports and the foundation for his becoming a captain and point guard for the Rice men’s basketball team.

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Coming Tuesday: Part 2 with Kevin Rabbitt

‘Huddle Up with Gus’ podcast: Going one-on-one with Mike Ditka

What is Mike Ditka’s favorite thing to do when he returns to the Pittsburgh area? What is his favorite type of cigar?

Gus Frerotte and Dave Hager go one-on-one with the former Pitt All-American and Pro Football Hall of Famer in the final segment of this week’s “Huddle Up with Gus” podcast.

‘Huddle Up with Gus’ podcast: Mike Ditka talks coaching 1980s Chicago Bears

The 1985 Chicago Bears offense couldn’t help but be good, having practiced daily against one of the NFL’s all-time great defenses, Mike Ditka said.

“If we didn’t defense ourselves, we were going to get killed,” Ditka told Gus Frerotte in the third part of this week’s “Huddle Up with Gus” podcast. “It made us better. It made our offense better.

“Don’t forget, we had the great Walter Payton, we had, (Jim) McMahon. For as nutty as he was, I would rather have nobody as my quarterback than him.”

Ditka said the the missing element to the Bears winning the Super Bowl — which they did during the ‘85 season — was developing the offense.

“The main thing we needed to figure out was, we had to put an offense together,” Ditka said. “Buddy Ryan ran the defense, and we had a helluva defense. We had some of the greatest players. We had (Dan) Hampton and (Steve) McMichael, (Richard) Dent, (Mike) Singletary and (Gary) Fencik.”

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Coming Thursday: Part 4 with Mike Ditka

‘Huddle Up with Gus’ podcast: Mike Ditka recalls days at Pitt, getting drafted into NFL

Former Pitt tight end Mike Ditka speeks to the media after talking to the Panther football team of the South Side Oct. 22, 2008.

Future Pro Football Hall of Famer Mike Ditka’s first professional football contract was for … $12,000.

“I was the (fifth) player picked in the draft — $12,000 with a $6,000 signing bonus,” Ditka told Gus Frerotte during the second part of this week’s “Huddle Up with Gus” podcast.

Ditka recalls playing at Pitt, where he was named an All-American in 1960 before being drafted by the Chicago Bears.

“I figured I’d play linebacker when I got to the pros,” Ditka said. “They drafted me, and I went and met (team owner George) Halas, and he said, ‘You’re going to play tight end.’ I said, ‘What the hell is a tight end?’”

Ditka caught 56 passes for 1,076 yards and 12 touchdowns — the yards and TDs ended up being career highs.

“I made All-Pro, and the next year (Halas) wanted to pay me $14,000. I said, Coach, that’s taking a cut. I said I wouldn’t sign for a penny less than $18,000. As I soon as I said it, he opened the drawer and had a contract for $18,000.”

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Coming Wednesday: Part 3 with Mike Ditka