This time, Lancers left no doubt
At halftime, the Neshannock marching band opened its musical show with a rendition of Train's “50 Ways to Say Good-bye.”
However, in the first half of Friday's WPIAL Class A quarterfinal game, the school's football team gave the Monessen Greyhounds 28 ways to say good-bye.
Good-bye to the playoffs, that is, and 28 as in points as the Lancers rolled to a 28-0 first half lead en route to a dominating 35-6 thrashing of the Greyhounds at Chartiers-Houston.
Like sequels to popular movies, last night's Monessen-Neshannock Part II was a dud compared to the original.
Last year, when the teams met in the quarterfinals, the Greyhounds did everything but beat the Lancers, instead losing in heartbreaking fashion, 24-21, on a last-second touchdown.
Last night's rematch was over before the game actually started.
The game started with Monessen being penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct because the Greyhounds, after being introduced to the crowd, made a bee line for the Neshannock team instead of its own bench and began jawing at the opposition.
It was a case of Monessen's bark being worse than its bite as Neshannock dominated the game from the start and never let up.
“This was our best performance by far this season,” said Neshannock coach Fred Mazzocio. “And that was a very good, well-coached football team we did that against out there.”
Mazzocio, who spoke briefly to his team after the win about Monessen's pre-game tactics, admitted that while his players didn't need any more motivation, the Greyhounds gave the Lancers just that before the opening kickoff.
“If that's what they do, that's what they do,” Mazzocio said when asked about the Greyhounds taunting his team before the game. “We play every game with a chip on our shoulders because we think nobody respects us. But, yes, we did get a little excited and I had to tell our kids (at the time) to not retaliate and keep their composure.”
Not only did the Lancers keep their composure, they took their anger out on the Greyhounds during the game.
It was obvious early whose night this was going to be.
On Monessen's opening possession when faced with a fourth-and-one, the Greyhounds went for it, had a mix-up on the play and lost yards.
On Neshannock's ensuing possession, twice the Lancers converted on a fourth-and-five en route to scoring what would be the winning touchdown.
And that touchdown came in an ironic area for Neshannock quarterback Ernie Burkes.
A year earlier, on the same end of the field and faced with a fourth-and-10 in the closing seconds from the Monessen 20-yard line, Burkes completed a pass to the one that set up his winning plunge on the next play.
Last night, while on the 19-yard line, Burkes called his own number and raced into the end zone for a 7-0 lead.
Really, that was all anyone needed to see.
This was simply not Monessen's night. Not by a long shot.
Oh, the Greyhounds came out feisty enough. But in the end it was the Lancers who were jumping and jawing and celebrating.
This time, they left no doubt at all.
Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or firstname.lastname@example.org.