Hounds facing 'typical Big Seven' team
It's no secret that the Tri-County South Conference usually has to take a back seat to the Big Seven in the WPIAL's Class A .
And the Big Seven hasn't hurt its reputation this season with three of the eight remaining quarterfinalists.
Tri-County South champion and lone survivor Monessen (10-0) will be trying to change that when the Greyhounds take on Big Seven runnerup Monaca (8-2) Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Ringgold's Joe Montana Stadium.
"It's a typical Big Seven team," said Monessen coach Andy Pacak. "They're really big and move behind the line. They like to come right at you."
In last week's first round 35-12 romp over the Tri-County South's Carmichaels, Monaca piled up 292 rushing yards with running backs Tony Reda and Nick Phillips each having more than 100 at halftime as the Indians jumped out to a 28-6 lead.
Reda, a junior, has rushed for 593 yards and 10 touchdowns and is averaging nine yards a carry.
Another runner is 190-pound senior Josh Himes, who's gained 469 yards and is averaging six yards every time he touches the ball.
Pacak, however, is also concerned with 6-3 junior quarterback Brandon Gaydosh.
"They have a good quarterback who can throw," he said.
Gaydosh has completed 40 of 95 passes for 724 yards and nine touchdowns with three interceptions. Reda is his favorite target with 15 receptions for 246 yards and three TDs.
Monessen will also have to be aware of versatile Victor Wright, who's played quarterback, running back and wide receiver.
A speedster, Wright returned the opening kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown in the Indians' 35-10 victory over Canevin.
The line features 6-5, 288 pound senior tackle Mike Monteleone, 5-11, 230 pound junior tackle Jeff McConnell and 6-1, 210 pound senior guard Nate McKay.
McKay is the lone returning starter from last year.
Junior linebackers Zach Garber and Jon Schooley are the ones to watch for Monaca when Monessen has the ball.
"Their linebackers No. 51 (Schooley) and No. 40 (Garber) are the keys to the defense," said Pacak. "They're all over the field."
Coached for the first season by Sam Cercone, Monaca started out 6-0 before losing to Big Seven champion Western Beaver (36-21) and Eastern Conference runnerup Springdale (37-34).
Monaca closed the regular season with a 17-9 victory at arch-rival Rochester in the battle for second place in the Big Seven.
"I'm somewhat surprised by our showing because the Big Seven is one of the toughest year in and year out," said Cercone, the school's athletic director who had been an assistant coach for 10 years before moving up when Shawn McCreary took the principal's job.
Cercone's game plan is simple.
"We like to establish the run and hope to control the ball," he said. "If it's a low scoring game it will be to our benefit. If it's high scoring it will be a toss up."
Cercone respects the Greyhounds.
"They're very quick, very fast and very athletic," he said. "They remind me a lot of the Farrell teams that used to be in our conference."