The quest toward a WPIAL Class 2A championship continues for the Neshannock High football team.
The next obstacle for the Lancers is Brentwood at 7 p.m. Friday at Freedom High School.
“They’re a very solid football team on both sides of the ball,” Neshannock coach Fred Mozzocio said. “They have a couple of really nice offensive players.
“Defensively, the whole group does a nice job. They’re very sound and they do a great job of running to the ball. They’re 9-2 for a reason and they’re playing some good ball.”
The Lancers (9-2) moved on with a 31-13 win over Serra Catholic in the first round, while the Spartans (9-2) advanced with a 28-19 decision over East Allegheny.
John Milcic, a 6-foot-4, 175-pound senior quarterback, is 97 of 187 for 1,447 yards with 13 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.
“He likes to move around and he’s very athletic,” Mozzocio said. “It’s hard to get your hands on him.
“They’ll roll him out. He runs the ball, too. Their line blocks very well.”
Brentwood finished second in the Three Rivers Conference behind Burgettstown with a 6-1 record. Neshannock won the Midwestern Athletic Conference outright with a 6-1 league ledger.
Aiden Wardzinsky, 5-10, 185-pound junior running back, paces the Spartans’ ground game with 882 yards on 138 attempts and nine touchdowns.
“He’s a very good runner with great vision,” Mozzocio said of Wardzinsky. “He has very good lower body strength and he can make you miss.
“He’s definitely a back that you have to gang tackle and know where he is at all times.”
The Spartans are outscoring their opponents by a 24.5-10.6 margin. They have shut out four opponents.
“They come out in multiple fronts,” Mozzocio said of Brentwood’s defense. “Their base defense is an odd front.
“They’ll bring some heat at times. They’re just a very sound team. Everybody just stays in their position and they have great gap integrity.”
Jason Nativio, a 5-7, 170-pound quarterback/defensive back, directs Neshannock’s offensive attack.
Nativio is 48 of 114 for 930 yards with seven touchdowns and two interceptions. He missed three games earlier in the year with a broken bone in his leg that he suffered against Riverside. Nativio threw for 206 yards last week with a pair of touchdowns, one going to Ethan Weatherby on an 88-yard touchdown.
“Coach (Frank) Bongivengo Jr. happened to see something with Serra Catholic’s defense,” Mozzocio said. “He called in the play to Jason and Jason executed it very well.
“Once Weatherby gets the ball in his hands, he’s dangerous; he’s a weapon.”
Braden Gennock, a 5-10, 170-pound senior running back/linebacker, paces the team in rushing with 1,441 yards on 202 carries.
He has scored 22 touchdowns and added a two-point conversion as well.
“Braden is a workhorse for us,” Mozzocio said. “In my mind, he should be the MVP of the conference.
“He does a great job blocking for us. You can’t bring him down with an arm tackle or one guy tackling him. He’s been a great spark for us.”
Tristan Tuck, a 5-7, 155-pound senior, continues to shine for the Lancers’ special teams. He booted his fourth field goal of the season last week, a 26-yard effort. It took three tries for those three points to stick on the board. The first kick from 26 yards out was wiped out because of a false start. The second, which sailed through the uprights from 31 yards away despite the play being whistled dead because of an offside penalty on Serra Catholic, also was waved off.
The third try was just as true as the previous two.
Connor Montgomery (Jr., OL/DL, 5-11, 225) is Neshannock’s long snapper and Kurt Sommerfield (So., WR/DB, 5-7, 145) is the holder.
“I looked out there and Tristan didn’t seem to be nervous,” Mozzocio said of Tuck getting three straight kicks. “He banged it right through. He’s had a very hot foot lately for us.”
Tuck also has made 40 extra points.
Mozzocio pointed out the recipe to success in order to advance.
“What we want to do is take care of the football. That’s always a big plus,” Mozzocio said. “Secondly, we want to stop the run. We want to make them one dimensional, that would be a big plus.
“We have to control the game up front on the offensive and defensive lines.”
The winner moves on to meet the victor of the Washington-Freedom contest at 7 p.m. Nov. 15 at a site to be determined.