Moon plans to follow championship formula

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Tuesday, August 17, 2021 | 6:01 AM


When Moon won a conference championship two seasons ago, its formula for success was controlling the line of scrimmage, running the ball effectively and winning the time-of-possession battle.

Tigers coach Ryan Linn sees all of the pieces being in place to execute that plan once again.

Moon returns four starters on the offensive line and an experienced quarterback in Ty McGowan.

In total, the Tigers have 10 returners who have started on offense.

“I think we’re going to be pretty physical and we’re going to be able to run the ball,” said Linn, who is entering his fifth season with the Tigers. “Our goal is to control both sides of the line of scrimmage. If we can do that, that will help Ty as well as some of our less experienced skill position players get into the flow of the game. We plan to play to our strength.”

Jake Baumgartner, an all-conference performer at center, starts for the fourth consecutive season. Trent Fraley, who is a Marshall commit, is the right guard and is a starter for the third year in a row. Aiden Mazreku is another returning starter at right tackle, as is Anthony Dines at left tackle. All four are seniors and will also see plenty of action on the defensive line.

Dylan Sleva, who was an all-conference linebacker last year, is slated to be the lead running back. Sleva had 63.5 tackles last year and rushed for 266 yards while splitting the ball-carrying duties with Jeremiah Dean. Linn described Sleva as a bruising back who fits the mold of the physical team the coaching staff envisions.

Dean is slated to play wide receiver to provide an experienced weapon for McGowan to go along with a pair of senior tight ends in Dante Docchio and Ben Bladel. Dean is a three-year starter on offense and defense.

Along with Dean, Taite Beachey, Jalen Broxie, Brandon Weaver and Anthony Antoniades saw the bulk of the action at receiver during 7-on-7s over the summer.

McGowan started a pair of games as a sophomore when Moon won the Allegheny Eight Conference. He was the quarterback for every game last season and gives the Tigers a commanding presence in the huddle.

“Ty got a lot of reps as a sophomore and last year was his time,” Linn said. “It’s always different when you’re the guy back there running the show, so having that opportunity to get used to those situations was good for him. He’s had a great summer so far, and we’re excited to see what he can do on the field come September.”

Dean will start at corner along with Weaver and Antoniades. Broxie, Caden Newhouse and Elijah Davis are competing for the two safety spots.

Prior to their Allegheny Six Conference opener, the Tigers have five nonconference games beginning with a trip to Seneca Valley in Week Zero on Aug. 27.

“I love it. Our schedule for the last four years has been like this,” Linn said. “You get to see how the kids are progressing while they are competing in game settings. You also get to see how other teams are doing. In our conference, all of the teams usually graduate a lot of starters from year to year, so it allows everyone to see how each team is developing.”

Moon

Coach: Ryan Linn

2020 record: 4-3, 2-3 in Class 5A Allegheny Six

All-time record: 341-454-19

SCHEDULE

Date, Opponent, Time

8.27, at Seneca Valley, 7

9.3 Montour, 7

9.10 at Woodland Hills, 7

9.17 North Hills, 7

9.24 at Fox Chapel, 7

10.1 South Fayette*, 7

10.8 at Peters Township*, 7

10.15 Upper Saint Clair*, 7

10.22 Bethel Park*, 7

10.29 at West Allegheny*, 7

*Conference game

STATISTICAL LEADERS

Passing: Tyler McGowan

88-140, 962 yards, 5 TDs

Rushing: Jeremiah Dean

30-272, 2 TDs

Receiving: Dawson Snyder*

27-344, 3 TDs

FAST FACTS

• Moon won the WPIAL Class 3A title in 1998 with a 34-7 victory over Blackhawk. It is the Tigers’ lone appearance in a WPIAL football championship game.

• Moon’s conference championship in 2019 was its first playoff berth since 2014 and was the first winning season since 2013.

• The Tigers have defeated rival West Allegheny three times in Linn’s four years with the program, including the last two years. Before Linn’s tenure, Moon hadn’t beaten West Allegheny since 2006.

• Moon lineman Trent Fraley, a Marshall commit, is the son of 10-year NFL veteran offensive lineman Hank Fraley. Hank played for the Steelers, Eagles, Browns and Rams.

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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