Monessen searches for defense to complement prolific offense

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Tuesday, August 22, 2023 | 10:36 PM


Last season, Monessen boasted one of the most prolific offenses in Class A, putting up 37.4 points per game. In their first-round playoff game, the Greyhounds hung 42 on higher-seeded Fort Cherry.

Problem was, coach Wade Brown’s team gave up 56 to the Rangers.

“And a legitimate 42 points,” Brown said. “It’s not like we were down 56-12 and we scored some late points.

“We were in the game, and we were actually winning in the second half. I told them there is no way we should score 42 legit points in a game and still lose by double digits.”

So, needless to say, much of the emphasis coming into the 2023 season has been on defense. The primary focus has been on improving the secondary, and, to that end, Brown had his team take part in more 7-on-7 tournaments in the offseason.

“The kids just have to want to play defense and stop people and not just think we can outscore people,” Brown said.

Added sophomore center/defensive tackle Torrence Taylor: “(Defensive coordinator Devin Owens) has been on our heels since we came back. … Just in general, defensive practices are a lot harder than offensive practices this year.”

If the Greyhounds can apply a tourniquet to a defense that, at times, hemorrhaged points, they have the means on offense to create long nights for opponents. Monessen did much of its damage on the ground last season, with Tyvaughn Kershaw leading the way. As a freshman, Kershaw rushed for more than 1,300 yards and scored 20 touchdowns on his way to Trib Westmoreland first-team all-star honors.

He is complemented by senior Daevon Burke, who, in addition to nearly 800 rushing yards, returned five kickoffs and two punts for touchdowns.

What Brown will be seeking for his offense is balance. After Brown flipped between quarterbacks last season, Danny Dozier, now a junior, will be the quarterback from Day 1 this season.

“We don’t want teams packing the box on us,” Brown said. “Hopefully, this year, Danny can take the job and run with it and make great strides and get all his reads together and make us a better team in the air.”

Added Taylor: “We definitely can throw the ball with (wide receivers) Lorenzo Gardner and Timothy Kershaw. Kershaw’s got the speed, and Lorenzo Gardner’s got the size.”

To wit: Kershaw, a junior, has been clocked at 4.4 in the 40-yard dash. Gardner, a senior, is 6-foot-3 and a matchup nightmare for most Class A DBs.

Taylor will help anchor the line on both sides, along with sophomore tight end/defensive end Rodney Johnson, who, Brown said, also might play some fullback. Senior Jermere Majors, a Trib Westmoreland honorable mention as a linebacker in 2022, will slide up to the defensive line to fill the void left by the tragic November shooting death of then-junior Amari Altomore.

The outlook for Monessen’s long-term stability is better than it has been in some years, and Brown is hopeful the team takes another step forward this season.

“A lot of our young talent saw the field last year. Some started really every game,” he said.

“These guys will have a chance for the game to slow down for them and make adjustments better on the field.”

Editor’s note: Due to production scheduling conflicts, previews for Tri County South teams Bentworth and California will appear later this week.

Monessen

Coach: Wade Brown

2022 record: 6-5, 5-2 in Class A Tri-County South Conference

All-time record: 678-394-47

SCHEDULE

Date, Opponent, Time

8.25 Washington, 7

9.1 at Cornell, 7

9.8 Frazier, 7

9.15 Bentworth*, 7

9.22 at California*, 7

9.29 at West Greene*, 7

10.6 Carmichaels*, 7

10.13 at Jefferson-Morgan*, 7

10.20 Mapletown*, 7

10.27 at Beth-Center*, 7

*Conference game

STATISTICAL LEADERS

Passing: Daniel Dozier

34-66, 624 yards, 11 TDs

Rushing: Tyvaughn Kershaw

121-1,353 yards, 17 TDs

Receiving: Tim Kershaw

14-324 yards, 3 TDs

FAST FACTS

• As a freshman, RB Tyvaughn Kershaw averaged 11.2 yards per carry.

• Monessen’s five conference wins last season were its most since winning six in 2018.

• Last season’s 5-2 Tri-County South record marked just the third time in the past 10 seasons that the Greyhounds had been above .500 in conference play.

• The Greyhounds scored at least 42 points in six games last season.

ROSTER

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

0, Tyvaughn Kershaw, 5-8/180, So.

2, Tim Kershaw, 5-10/170, Jr.

3, Devontae Robinson, 5-8/160, Jr.

4, Daevon Burke, 5-10/180, Sr.

5, Daniel Dozier, 5-10/215, Jr.

6, Lorenzo Gardner, 6-3/180, Sr.

7, Tavian Taylor, 5-5/155, So.

8, Rodney Johnson, 5-10/225, So.

10, Dennis Hawkins, 6-1/160, Fr.

11, Michael Hines, 5-7/150, Fr.

12, Jayveyon Jeffries, 5-11/150, Fr.

13, Kaier Payne, 5-11/160, Fr.

15, Kaydan Kolbeck, 5-11/160, Fr.

17, Damajae Martin, 5-7/145, Fr.

20, Jaekwon Craggette, 5-10/160, Fr.

22, Terrodric Williams, 5-8/140, Jr.

23, Kam Anderson, 5-8/215, Jr.

26, Elijah Davis Bell, 5-6/130, Fr.

50, Jermere Majors, 6-2/245, Sr.

52, Torrence Taylor, 5-11/220, So.

55, Jacob Savage, 6-1/235, Jr.

56, Matt Moore, 5-9/230, Jr.

60, Tayvin Craggette, 6-0/175, So.

61, Dariyon Prince, 5-8/190, So.

72, Ben Davis, 5-10/215, Fr.

76, Marcus Behanna, 5-10/170, Sr.

77, Theo Moore, 6-8/285, So.

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