After rebuilding year, Moon ready to take step forward
Tuesday, August 8, 2023 | 11:50 PM
Heading into last season, the Moon football program was looking to replace a majority of starters who reached the 2021 WPIAL Class 5A championship game.
The roster turnover proved to be too much to overcome as the Tigers finished 1-9 overall and 1-4 in Allegheny Six Conference play.
This season, the Tigers bring back 15 starters from last year’s rebuilding team — eight on offense and seven on defense.
“We replaced a lot of starters on each side of the ball; you have to realize there was going to be a drop-off. We just didn’t know how big the drop-off was going to be,” coach Ryan Linn said.
“You always have to appreciate the highs when you get them, but you need to know when you do have the lows, it’s not the end of the world. It’s about how you respond and rebuild. It’s about changing the mindset and getting back to where we were and keep plugging away.”
The Tigers offense will be centered around their running game this year as they have their top two running backs returning along with their entire offensive line.
Senior Josh Bladel and junior Nazir Brookins will be getting the bulk of the carries. Brookins led the Tigers with 302 rushing yards last year as Bladel missed a handful of games because of injury.
The Tigers also return three quarterbacks who saw playing time — senior Ethan Konieczka and sophomores Braeden Stuart and Andrew Cross.
Stuart led the team with 345 passing yards and one touchdown and eight interceptions as a freshman.
Linn and the Tigers coaching staff will look to continue to protect their quarterbacks by leaning on their run game and play-action offense.
Junior Nicky Prozzoly will play a key role, lining up at receiver and running the wildcat formation.
The offense will try to be creative to improve on the 9.3-points-per-game average from last year. The Tigers allowed 41.1 points per game.
“In January, we started lifting as a team again, and in March we started to get on the field. We should be looking a lot better than we did last year. A lot of the guys got stronger from last year. As long as we stay healthy, we have a pretty good shot to be better this year,” Bladel said.
“Leadership plays a huge role. There was no accountability and discipline with our team last year.”
The Tigers receiver group will look a lot different after the graduation of Anthony Antoniades and Brandon Weaver.
Linn will have four sophomores making contributions at receiver — Jared Moyer, Paul Bronaugh, Jayden Revis and Myles Turner.
On defense, Moyer will see action at outside linebacker. Bronaugh, Revis and Turner will be in the defensive backfield with Prozzoly returning at safety.
“We just want them to be consistent with their effort, their attitude and everything we do. We want to live to play another play,” Linn said.
“Don’t make a mistake that kills us, but if you don’t do well then you have another opportunity. Give yourself a chance to have another snap, another opportunity out there.”
Last season, the Tigers’ ended on a high note as they beat Baldwin, 41-34, in the final game, which fueled the team during offseason workouts.
With added momentum and an experienced roster, the Tigers coaches have set their goals on what could be a realistic turnaround in a competitive Allegheny Six Conference.
“I think getting back to .500 is a big improvement for us,” Linn said. “We have done it before. It’s just for us getting comfortable on Friday nights, and if we can do those things and have early season success, that builds the confidence and we have a chance to compete for a playoff run.”
Coach: Ryan Linn
2022 record: 1-9, 1-4 in Class 5A Allegheny Six Conference
All-time record: 354-464-19
Date, Opponent, Time
8.25 at West Allegheny, 7
9.1 Montour, 7
9.8 at Mt. Lebanon, 7
9.15 at Penn Hills, 7
9.22 Mars, 7
9.29 South Fayette*, 7
10.6 at Peters Township*, 7
10.13 Bethel Park*, 7
10.20 at Upper St. Clair*, 7
10.27 Baldwin*, 7
Passing: Braeden Stuart
26-67, 345 yards, 1 TD
Rushing: Nazir Brookins
79-302 yards, 1 TD
Receiving: Brandon Weaver*
8-168 yards, 1 TD
• Moon made two WPIAL championship appearances — 1998 and 2021.
• This is Ryan Linn’s seventh season as head coach.
• The Moon football program will be celebrating its 88th season.
• The field at Tiger Stadium received a facelift in the offseason as new turf was installed.
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