Matt Koperniak's progression, from running back as a youth to Western Massachusetts Division V champion quarterback as a senior, was gradual.
Hoosac Valley's Koperniak was not the hot-shot gunslinger racking up yardage through the air. However, his willingness to improve and his ability to lead helped him put together a stellar final season, leading to the Berkshire County Coaches' offensive MVP selection.
Koperniak played sparingly under center as a freshman, occasionally filling in for Matt Braman. During his sophomore year, coach Dayne Poirot wanted Koperniak to get comfortable with the offense. As a junior and senior, Poirot added more wrinkles to the offense and continued to give Koperniak more responsibility, allowing him to show his play-making ability.
"It's really tough at first. It's hard to take control out there," Koperniak said of gaining comfort at quarterback. "You've got to know where everybody goes and eventually I got it down and learned the plays. I got comfortable learning the offense, so it was a good transformation."
As an upperclassman, Koperniak was asked to make plays with his arm, but his scrambling ability was always a strength.
Koperniak threw for 590 yards and six touchdowns as a senior. He added another 400-plus yards and six scores on the ground.
"He's sneaky fast," Poirot said. "He has another gear that he doesn't go into very often, but he gets past people if they take the wrong angles. He's tough, fast and confident. His speed has been huge for us."
Koperniak used his legs early in the season, rushing for a season-high 128 yards and a touchdown in the season opener against Chicopee Comp. In the postseason, he relied on his arm more, passing for a combined 302 yards and two scores against Northbridge and Frontier.
The postseason success offered great redemption after a three-interception performance in the Western Mass. D-V championship game loss to Pittsfield last season. Poirot said Koperniak's level-headed demeanor allowed him to move past that game, while using it as fuel for his senior year.
"He's not the type of kid to dwell on things," Poirot said. "He pushes himself to get better. He improved from last year to this year, growing in comfort with who he was throwing to. Passing became more natural and he stepped up and responded,"
Koperniak was a true dual-threat for the Hurricanes. His versatility and coachability made for the complete package at quarterback.
"He's a special kid and athlete," Poirot said. "A kid like that doesn't come along very often. ... Game-changer type of athlete and a great kid."