Moon looks to build off trip to WPIAL quarterfinals

Thursday, August 27, 2020 | 11:30 PM

Moon produced one of its best football seasons in recent memory last year, when the Tigers posted a record of 9-3, earned a share of the Allegheny Eight championship and made a run to the WPIAL Class 5A quarterfinals.

While it was the best season of coach Ryan Linn’s tenure at Moon, it also was a building block for the future of the program. Over the past three years, the Tigers have developed a strong culture, built a family atmosphere and developed a trust between players and coaches that has manifested into something special.

“Coach Linn emphasizes family over everything else, and it’s like nothing we’ve ever experienced before in our lives,” senior Dalton Dobyns said. “So, this is like our family, and it doesn’t matter what’s going on around us.

“It’s nice that you can come to football and everything goes away. We kind of adopted that family-like atmosphere, and we trusted each other no matter what, and I think that showed with our record last year.”

The Tigers had three separate winning streaks last year, including a four-game stretch to end the regular season with victories over Peters Township, Upper St. Clair, Woodland Hills and West Allegheny. Then they defeated Franklin Regional in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs to capture their first playoff win since 2006.

The seniors could feel the team’s culture starting to turn.

“It used to be, ‘Maybe we’ll win tonight,’” senior Brady Panucci said. “Now, it’s, ‘We expect to win every night.’”

So, heading into this season, the Tigers are looking to keep building, and they have a special foundation in place.

Junior Ty McGowan is back under center after passing for 879 yards and seven touchdowns last season, and he’s taken a big step forward already. Linn said McGowan has put on at least 15 pounds since students went home in March because of the coronavirus pandemic, and the third-year coach can see the relationship he’s developing with his teammates.

“He has been throwing with Dawson (Snyder), Brady (Panucci), Jeremiah (Dean) and those guys since March and you can just see the relationships building,” Linn said. “His arm looks to be in midseason form already, so the anticipation for him is to have a really good junior year.”

The Tigers have plenty of athletes surrounding their second-year quarterback as well. Snyder is back after catching 51 passes for 711 yards and four touchdowns last season, and he returns alongside junior Dean and Panucci. Dobyns and Dante Docchio provide the offense with two big tight ends.

While Moon’s offense will be strong, Linn believes the defense will be even stronger. The Tigers return starters at every level of the defense, including three on the line, two at linebacker and three in the secondary.

But in order to have success, Linn believes the Tigers just have to limit their mistakes on both sides of the ball.

“Whether it’s turnovers or penalties, we did that well last year,” Linn said. “So just forcing turnovers, short fields, I think that will provide good things for us. If we can limit controllable mistakes, things that we talk about daily, I think we’ll be OK.”


Coach: Ryan Linn

2019 record: 9-3, 6-1 in Class 5A Allegheny Eight Conference

All-time record: 337-451-19

Date, Opponent, Time

9.11, West Allegheny*, 7

9.18, at North Hills, 7

9.25, Fox Chapel, 7

10.2, at South Fayette*, 7

10.9, Peters Township*, 7

10.16, at Upper St. Clair*, 7:30

10.23, at Bethel Park*, 7

*Class 5A Allegheny Six Conference game

Statistical leaders

Passing: Ty McGowan

58-108, 879 yards, 7 TDs

Receiving: Dawson Snyder

51-711 yards, 4 TDs

Rushing: Dante Clay

101-676 yards, 8 TDs

Fast facts

• The Tigers will look to replace a strong offensive line from last year but will return three linemen who started games last season.

• Last season was Ryan Linn’s first playoff appearance as a coach at Moon.

• After an injury last season, the Tigers will return running back and linebacker Skylar Russo.

• Among eight returning starters on the defensive side, Moon’s Dawson Snyder picked off five passes last season and junior Ben Bladel recorded 22.5 sacks.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at or via Twitter .


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