Monessen looks to build on ‘promising finish’ to 2021 season

By:
Tuesday, August 23, 2022 | 12:01 PM


Football camp 2021 was full of uncertainty for Monessen. The Greyhounds were coming off a winless season during which they had to forfeit their final three games because of a personnel shortage. They also were under a new coach: Wade Brown.

When the dust settled, Monessen had won four games and qualified for the WPIAL playoffs, losing to Cornell in the opening round. Like any coach, Brown was disappointed in the premature ending to the season, but, upon reflection, he could appreciate the strides his team made.

“Looking back, yeah,” Brown said when asked if he was satisfied with the 2021 season. “This year, having a lot of the same kids back, even though they’re still young, it definitely was a promising finish.”

So it goes without saying that there is much more optimism around the program as the 2022 season dawns.

“There’s definite improvement,” junior QB/WR Lorenzo Gardner said. “There are more people working, and you can tell people have been working over the summer. There’s definitely a better attitude.”

Returning three all-conference players will help the Hounds’ cause. Junior Jermere Majors will start at middle linebacker, and Brown calls him “the heart and soul of our defense.” Sophomore Dan Dozier was a stalwart on the defensive line, and junior Daevon Burke also fortified Monessen’s D-line. Dozier, Brown said, will move to linebacker this season, and Burke reported to summer workouts 20 pounds lighter than last season.

Senior Trey Thompson is back on the defensive line as well. Thompson transferred in from Clairton last season, but, though he played during the regular season, he was ineligible for the playoff game because of his transfer.

Senior Nigier Foster and Devontae Robinson also contributed to a defense that senior Jai’Sean Blackman called the strength of the team.

“Last year defense was probably our strong suit,” said Blackman, who, Brown said, will figure more heavily into the defensive gameplan. “But I know our offense has put in a lot of work. We have a lot of new pieces, so we should definitely be fine on offense.”

Blackman will anchor the offensive line, moving over to center after playing tackle last season. Thompson also returns to the O-line, and, Brown said, a few freshmen are likely to see time there.

Gardner was the primary quarterback last season, but Brown said he might go with two quarterbacks as Dozier is likely to get more reps.

“There’s nothing like competition to get ready for the season,” Brown said.

If Dozier takes over as the primary QB, Gardner will slot in at wide receiver. At 6-foot-3 and near 200 pounds, Gardner can use the skills that made him the section player of the year in basketball to frustrate opposing defensive backs.

Robinson also will see time at receiver, as will Leonaj Thomas. Thomas came out for football for the first time last season, and, though he didn’t finish out the year, he is back. Like Gardner, Thomas can use his 6-4, 200-pound basketball frame to his advantage.

A new running back will have to emerge after last season’s leading rusher, Anthony Crews, transferred. Two-way starter Jamar Bethea also transferred, leaving another void for the Hounds to fill.

Roster numbers still are lacking, but after last season’s progress, there is a better vibe for 2022. There even is talk of a conference title and a deep run in the playoffs.

“We definitely have a shot at that,” Gardner said. “If everybody plays their role and does what they have to do, we definitely have a chance.”

MONESSEN

Coach: Wade Brown

2021 record: 4-7, 3-4 in Class A Tri-County South Conference

All-time record: 672-389-47

SCHEDULE

Date, Opponent, Time

8.26 at Washington, 7

9.2 Cornell, 7

9.9 at Frazier, 7

9.16 at Bentworth*, 7

9.22 California*, 7

9.30 West Greene*, 7

10.7 at Carmichaels*, 7

10.14 Jefferson-Morgan*, 7

10.21 at Mapletown*, 7

10.28 Beth-Center*, 7

*Conference game

FAST FACTS

• Last season’s playoff appearance was the first for the Greyhounds since 2018.

• Monessen hasn’t won a WPIAL playoff game since 2013.

• The Greyhounds have the third-most wins in Westmoreland County (672), behind only Jeannette (767) and Greensburg Salem (705).

ROSTER

No., Name, Pos., Ht./Wt., Cl.

1, Tyvaughn Kershaw, TB/S, 5-9/185, Fr.

2, Tim Kershaw, WR/DB, 5-11/155, So.

3, Davantae Robinson, WR/DB, 5-10/160, So.

4, Daevon Burke, RB/LB, 5-10/185, Jr.

5, Daniel Dozier, QB/LB, 5-11/220, So.

6, Lorenzo Gardner, QB/DB, 6-3/175, Jr.

7, Tavian Taylor, WR/DB, 5-6/155, Fr.

8, Rodney Johnson, TE/DE, 6-0/235, Fr.

11, Davantae Clayton, WR/DB, 5-8/145, Sr.

13, Leonaj Thomas, WR/DE, 6-3/185, Jr.

15, Darryl Ray, WR/DB, 6-2/165, Jr.

17, Nigler Foster, WR/DB, 5-9/165, Sr.

22, Jermere Majors, TE/FB/LB, 6-1/230, Jr.

23, Terry Newton, WR/DE, 6-3/170, Jr.

24, Gio Isbell, FB/LB, 6-0/200, Sr.

50, Trevian Thompson, OL/DL, 6-2/300, Sr.

52, Torrence Taylor, C/DL, 6-0/215, Fr.

53, Amari Altomore, OL/DL, 6-4/275, Jr.

55, Jaisean Blackmon, OL/DL, 6-2/270, Sr.

56, Tayvion Dupree, OL/DL, 6-0/255, Sr.

60, Tayvin Cragette, OL/DE, 5-9/155, Fr.

61, Daryion Prince, OL/DL, 5-7/195, Fr.

64, Matt Moore, OL/DL, 5-9/215, So.

76, Jacob Savage, OL/DL, 6-2/275, So.

77, Theotis Martin, OL/DL, 6-4/300, So.

Note: Due to publication scheduling conflicts, previews for Tri-County South teams Bentworth, California and West Greene will appear on Trib HSSN later this week.

More Football

GoFundMe posted for former Norwin football player Josiah Pastories, who was killed in auto accident
WPIAL rules Aliquippa rising junior ineligible following transfer from North Hills
Riverview football standout Carlo Buzzatto excited to compete on global stage
Terrelle Pryor, Dick Hoak, Joe Mucci to enter National High School Football Hall of Fame
After prolific career at Allegheny, former Norwin receiver moving up to Division I FCS level