Monessen is setting the standard in the Black Hills
A lot of WPIAL teams would consider a 6-3 regular-season record to be a success.
A young team in 2011, the Greyhounds didn't have the season that they have come to expect, and a core nucleus has prepared for this season to go smoothly.
Coach Andy Pacak is excited with how the summer has gone and said it will help his team in its first year in the challenging Black Hills Conference, which includes four-time WPIAL champion Clairton.
“There are no two ways about it, it's going to be like a playoff game each week,” he said. “Going 6-3 is not a good year for us and the guys want to get it rolling.
“They want to show what we can do, and we have had great summer workouts three days a week.”
Leading the way will be quarterback Chavas Rawlins, a West Virginia University recruit.
According to Pacak, Rawlins has teammates who can play at the next level.
“We have a handful of other guys who can play Division I or I-AA,” he said. “Some of the guys got time last year as younger players and now they know what to expect.”
Pacak named four juniors he expects to step up, including middle linebacker and H-back Justice Heath, receiver/linebacker Clintell Gillespie, two-way tackle Justice Tartt, and receiver/running back/cornerback Javon Brown. Justice Rawlins and Brandon Lenhart should also get time at running back.
Heath returns to the field after missing last year with a knee injury. He was an all-state selection as a freshman.
As far as the move to the new conference, Pacak is familiar with some of the teams.
“There's a familiarity with Clairton, and we played Bishop Canevin twice,” he said. “We also played Chartiers-Houston in the playoffs.
“You kind of know what they do, but seven of the 10 teams in the conference made the playoffs last year. I think it is a good thing because it puts a challenge in front of you.”