NEW CASTLE —
THE DEFENSIVE SIDE
Both teams have underrated defensive units. Neshannock allows fewer points, 16.5 per game, than Monessen does, but the Greyhounds may have the more effective playmakers.
“They have a very good defense,” Mozzocio said. “Again, Rawlins is a key guy on that side of the ball. They have some really good ballplayers which complement nice schemes. They do well playing team defense and swarming to the ball.”
Rawlins is a ball-hawking safety for the Greyhounds. Gillespie leads the front-seven from his linebacker position.
Pacak is impressed with the schemes and openness of the Lancers defense.
“Scheme wise, they’re wide open,” Pacak said. “Watching them, it seems like they are going to play their defense and do what it is they’re going to do. Their linebackers pursuit of the ball is impressive. Both ends of the ball they have bunch of kids going after it and playing at 150 miles-per-hour every play.”
Pacak looks to Monessen’s past playoff experience to keep the nerves calm. The team is making its second trip to the quarterfinals in three season, its most recent a 30-6 loss to Springdale in 2010.
“That helps being in the playoffs,” Pacak said. “Being in the Black Hills Conference has paid a lot of dividends in being in a lot of tough games. Our kids that our seniors, this will be their sixth playoff game they’ve played in.”
Neshannock has taken the same approach to every game all season, according to Mozzocio. The loose atmosphere of the team continued after last week’s big win.
“It’s been a same type of atmosphere,” Mozzocio said. “We have kids coming out to practice laughing and having a good time when we warm up. It’s been all business as usual.”
“I don’t want anybody to take this the wrong way,” he continued. “On our very first day, I talked to these young men. We set a goal to win the state championship. With that, we say the word ‘win’ every day. It means what’s important now. That’s exactly in our mind in what we continue to do.”