NEW CASTLE —
Richards, a senior, earned first-team honors at kicker. He booted one field goal and had 53 PATs for a total of 56 points.
“He plays soccer, too, and he came to me early on and said he’d like to kick. Even though he’s just a kicker, he showed up in the weight room all winter long, too. Every free moment he had from soccer, he was working on his craft. It paid off. He was a force for us,” Mozzocio said. “He didn’t miss many extra points. We could have kicked numerous field goals. Fortunately, we scored a lot of touchdowns so we didn’t have to. If he decides he wants to, he can play at the next level. He consistently made field goals between 52 and 57 yards in practice. He made a few 57 yarders for us in scrimmages. If you get someone working with him at the college level, we think he can do something. He was the difference in a few games for us.”
Mozzocio was surprised to see another senior, Kienan Owens, not repeat as a first-teamer on defense.
“Every time you pick an all-star team, there are a couple players who don’t get on there. He has had double-digit sacks over last two years,” Mozzocio said. “We asked him to play slot receiver for us this year and he played some running back, too. He made contributions there. He was somebody, who in the past, the whole defense revolved around him and what he did. We asked him to play team type of defense for us. Individually, that probably hurt him in the end, but by no means does it diminish his role and how he helped us get to 10 wins. He is a flat-out phenomenal football player.”
Jeffries, a junior, was honored at tight end. He had five catches for 76 yards and a touchdown.
“He is such a nice kid; he is the big, friendly teddy bear type. We told him what we expected of him, and what we thought his potential was. We wanted him to go out and show what kind of player he is,” Mozzocio said. “When you get on the field, you have to flick that switch and become a force. He definitely did that. The best has yet to come for him. He has a huge upside. He’s only going to get bigger. He is going to grow more. We can’t wait to get him in the weight room a full year. I am glad I am not blocking him next year.”
Oliva, a junior linebacker, earned honors on the defensive line.
“He is the emotional spark for our defense. He is our vocal leader. When things look down, he is that leader who gives these guys a spark and keeps them working and focused,” Mozzocio said. “He makes plays sideline to sideline. He’s coming back and he will be a force. We’re excited about having him back.”
Mozzocio earned coach of the year honors for guiding Neshannock on an historic turnaround. The Lancers finished 5-4 last year and out of the playoffs. Mozzocio helped the team to a 10-2 record this fall and their first postseason appearance since 2004. The Lancers won their first-ever WPIAL playoff game this season and beat WPIAL finalist Sto-Rox.
“It’s definitely an honor, especially in the Big Seven Conference with all the great coaches in that conference,” he said. “The honor is to our staff, not me. We’re a complete staff. That’s our mentality as a team and as a coaching staff. I have the title to be a head coach, but we all work together with no egos. It’s a team effort. This award just goes out to my staff. They are the best around and, hopefully, we’ll have them all back next year.”