A year ago, Neshannock was in contention for a conference championship.
However, consecutive losses to close the regular season erased the team’s Midwestern Athletic Conference title chances and kept them out of the WPIAL Class 2A playoffs as well.
With a veteran group back, the Lancers have postseason aspirations this fall.
“It’s been a good summer. I thought it was a great offseason. The kids worked hard and put a lot of time in. It’s nice to see the rewards of all the hard work,” Neshannock coach Fred Mozzocio said. “It was nice to get back to our normal routine. We traveled around and did a lot of 7-on-7s and some big man camps. It was a good summer, as far as getting back to the things we do at Neshannock that have made us successful in the past.”
Quarterback Kurt Sommerfeld returns to lead the offense. Jonny Huff is working as the position, too. Whichever player is not at quarterback will be at wide receiver, along with Luciano DeLillo, Ronnie DeMase, Josh Pallerino and Anthony Bonner. Aidan Shaffer and Ryan Huff are at tight end.
The backfield has plenty of experience, too. Senior Cameron Owens returns after rushing for 1,094 yards a year ago. He added 11 touchdowns.
“I think Cameron is definitely one of the best backs in the WPIAL, there’s no doubt about that,” Mozzocio said. “He has had a strong offseason and is primed and ready to go. We’re excited to have him back and leading our team. I know our team is excited to block for him.”
Matt Ioanilli, Peyton Weaver and Jackson Billyk will also see carries.
“We have a nice crew of running backs. They all complement each other,” Mozzocio said. “It’s nice to have those guys back there that can do different things for us.”
Mason Manos and Landen Shaffer will be three-year starters on the offensive line. Jackson Mozzocio, Michael Ponziani, Emon Holmes and Michael Altmyer will see time, too.
“We have a lot of experience,” Fred Mozzocio said. “A lot of these guys were sophomores and juniors last year and have been in big games for us. They are ready to contribute and make a run. We’ll see how it goes.”
On defense, Landen Shaffer, Manos and Holmes will be up front. Jonathan Pallerino and Ioanilli are at outside linebacker. Ryan Huff, Patrick Argiro, Weaver and Billyk are at inside linebacker. In the secondary, DeLillo and Huff are at cornerback. Owens, Bonner, Pallerino and Sommerfeld could all see time at safety.
“We have a lot of speed on defense. Our linebackers and everyone in the secondary can run,” Fred Mozzocio said. “Our three defensive linemen are strong kids. They are as good as anyone. We’re pretty excited about those guys.”
Neshannock hopes to compete for the MAC title this season.
“We look forward to the grind. Every week in the MAC, it’s a playoff-type atmosphere. Teams are close in proximity and that makes great rivalries,” Fred Mozzocio said. “I think we all respect each other, but we like to get after each other. That makes for good competition on Friday nights. We’re ready to play 48 minutes each week and let the chips fall where they may.”