During the month of August and leading up to the kickoff of the high school football season, PSN will profile some of the top players in the WPIAL. These player previews and our 2018 High School Football coverage is sponsored by Dunkin’ Donuts of Pittsburgh, proud sponsors of high school football in Western Pennsylvania.
Andrew Kristofic’s junior year of high school was a whirlwind.
The Pine-Richland right tackle anchored the front five on an offense that torched WPIAL record books and steamrolled opponents en route to a PIAA championship. Following the conclusion of football season, Kristofic took a week to recharge and joined the basketball team, where he starts at center and averages double-figures. The Rams advanced to the PIAA semifinals, falling to eventual state champion Roman Catholic in overtime.
All the while, Kristofic’s recruiting process was in overdrive. Offers poured in from every major Division I program possible: Clemson, Ohio State, Georgia, and Michigan to name a few. He eventually committed to Notre Dame in late April, marking the second straight year the Irish have landed Pine-Richland’s top player.
“It’s been a long offseason, waiting for senior year,” Kristofic said. “That’s the year everyone eyes up. It’s no different for me, my teammates, our team. We’re all really excited about it.”
Pine-Richland has every intention of still pushing people around despite the loss of quarterback Phil Jurkovec, who’s at Notre Dame now, and several other marquee players. Kristofic is one of three starters back on an offensive line that should be among the best in the WPIAL, if not the PIAA. Right guard Michael Katic is committed to Indiana, and center Mike Dorundo II is being pursued by FCS programs.
247 Sports ranks Kristofic as a four-star recruit and the second-best prospect in the state of Pennsylvania. It’s a quick ascension considering he just started playing offensive line three years ago. He has the measurables—6-foot-6 and 275 pounds—but is still growing into his body.
“The biggest thing is building strength,” Kristofic said. “Being a late offensive lineman, late to the offensive line game, strength is something I’m still playing catch-up on.”
His tape reveals an athletic lineman that moves extremely well for his size and is great in both pass and run blocking. He enjoys getting downfield and believes his time on the hard court has been a boost to his footwork and speed.
With his recruitment wrapped up, Kristofic is excited to focus on his final months of high school. He’s already decided to enroll early and will join Notre Dame in January for the start of the spring semester.
“It was a lot of time and energy that I’m glad to have back to myself,” Kristofic said of his recruiting process. “To dedicate and put all that time and energy back in myself and getting ready for the season, and to the team, too. It’s one less thing you have to worry about and one less distraction.”
In addition to bulldozing people this year, Kristofic is expected to be a team leader, a position he is not accustomed to.
“For me and for a lot of the guys that are coming back this year, we kind of were able to go out and do our jobs and work with whatever unit with work within,” Kristofic said. “You could be one of the guys who just provide energy, not necessarily something the entire team looks up to.”
“That’s something I’ve had to change. I can’t just be the guy for the offensive and defensive lines, I have to try and be the guy for the whole team.”
Opposing teams will be gearing up to knock off Kristofic and his teammates in 2018. Everyone wants a shot at the defending champs, and Pine-Richland’s hulking offensive lineman certainly embraces the challenge.
“That’s something you have to deal with and welcome,” Kristofic said. “Because it just adds that much more urgency to everything you do, knowing no matter what, you’re going to get everyone’s best shot.”