NEW CASTLE —
Burkes is the star for the Lancers on offense. The junior quarterback leads all county throwers with 1,485 yards on 111 of 172 attempts. He ranks seventh in the county in rushing with 787 yards on 87 carries.
“He does everything well. He runs the ball and manages the offense well,” Nola said. “He’s thrown for 1,500 yards this season, so he can definitely throw the ball. He's a good player.”
Neshannock uses a lot of spread formations and a no-huddle offense that has given teams fits. The Lancers have averaged 39 points a game this season. Nola believes his team is ready for what the Lancers will do.
“We've had some teams go no-huddle and spread,” Nola said. “It’s nothing we haven’t seen before. We'll be ready for it.”
Another player the Bears will have to account for is sophomore running back Eli Owens. A 46-yard touchdown run from Owens gave the Lancers the lead in the third quarter last week against Monessen. He leads the team and is second in the county with 1,157 rushing yards on 152 carries.
“He's a good, hard runner,” Nola said. “They try to use different kinds of motions with him. He's more of an in-between the tackles runner.”
Receivers John Conglose and Alex Welker have been a dynamic duo for Neshannock all season. Welker leads all county receivers with 641 yards on 37 receptions. Conglose is right behind with 595 yards on 40 receptions. Conglose made a big play last week on Neshannock’s final scoring drive, a fourth-down reception to the Monessen 1 that set-up the Burkes touchdown.
“They’re very scrappy,” Nola said. “They do a lot of different things on offense that can give teams trouble.”
The defenses for both teams are often overlooked.
Neshannock’s allows 16 points per game. It has gotten timely play from Owens at cornerback, with two interceptions in crucial moments in the past two games.
“They try to change fronts on you and do some different things,” Nola said. “They really try to confuse the offense. It'll be a challenge.”
Mozzocio knows the Bears’ success starts on defense.
“Everything that happens for Clairton is created by the defensive side of the football,” Mozzocio said. “You see the big scores and big wins, it’s because of their stars on the defensive side.”
Not surprising, “The Killer T’s” again are the focal point for a defense that only has allowed six points per game. Howard provides high-caliber play from the cornerback position.
“He's a great cover corner,” Mozzocio said. “He'll get in your face and pressure. Teams have a hard time getting away from him jamming at the line. He’s known for playing great man coverage.”