Moon hopes better O-line, quick-strike approach pay dividends

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Friday, August 16, 2019 | 3:49 PM


Moon’s offensive philosophy is simple: Get the ball to a player quickly in open space, and let him do all the rest.

The Tigers hope their spread offense gets a jolt with the infusion of young speedsters this fall.

“We have a bunch of young, skilled wide receivers that are very athletic and shifty,” coach Ryan Linn said. “We need to find ways to get the ball in their hands, whether it’s in the run game or with quick passes.

“We’ve done some seven-on-sevens, and they’ve made some plays on deep balls. But in short, quick spaces, they’ve made catches and exploded down the field after one cut, which is good to see.”

Quarterback Dante Clay returns to help guide the offense. He passed for 844 yards last year. He will be targeting Dawson Snyder, Jeremiah Dean, Isaiah Dimichele, Logan Young, Brady Panucci and Jamal Littlejohn among others. Littlejohn will be the team’s top running back after rushing for 294 yards last season.

“We have to open up the run game to help our passing game,” senior Brenden Luffey said. “Dante grew tremendously throwing the ball this year. Now, having all of our wide receivers step up and Jamal Littlejohn back will open up so many options for us to expose defenses.”

Clay also will run with the ball at quarterback.

“He is very athletic. He is a threat to run it,” Linn said. “If we can run the ball better, I think that’ll really help us.”

Luffey, a three-year starter, leads the line.

“He is our anchor at right tackle,” Linn said. “He has taken some bigger steps forward in a leadership role for us. Up front, we’ll be really solid.”

Jake Baumgartner returns as the starting center. Ben Bladel, Trent Fraley, Ricky Schultzaberger and Andrew Sampson will see time on the line as well.

“We have come a long way since last year. The line we have now is maybe five times better than last year, just size-wise and in knowledge of the game,” Luffey said. “Our offensive line loves the quick game, and we love the run game. We want to be explosive off the ball right into the defense.”

Littlejohn paces the defense at linebacker.

“We have to find a couple linebackers to play next to Jamal. That’s the biggest question mark we have on defense,” Linn said. “Jamal is a three-year starter at outside linebacker, and he’s probably been our best football player. He will be the leader of our defense.”

Last year, the Tigers finished 2-8 overall and 1-6 in the Allegheny Eight Conference. They expect another tough battle once they get open conference play.

“You never take anyone lightly because there’s no easy week,” Linn said. “We tell the kids that each week is a playoff game in our conference. If you can make it through the conference, you have a good chance of really doing something, but it ain’t easy.”

Schedule

Coach: Ryan Linn

2018 record: 2-8, 1-6

All-time record: 328-448-19

Date, Opponent, Time

8.23, at Montour, 7

8.30, Mars, 7

9.6, at Pine-Richland, 7

9.13, at Baldwin*, 7

9.20, Chartiers Valley*, 7

9.27, at Bethel Park*, 7:30

10.4, Peters Township*, 7

10.11, Upper St. Clair*, 7

10.18, at Woodland Hills*, 7

10.25, at West Allegheny*, 7

*Class 5A Allegheny 8 Conference game

Statistical leaders

Passing: Dante Clay

82-167, 844 yards, 5 TDs

Receiving: Malcolm Johnson*

18-241 yards, 3 TDs

Rushing: Brady Sunday*

89-315 yards, 22 TDs

*Graduated

Joe Sager is a freelance writer.

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