Numbers up at Monessen, but Greyhounds are young
Saturday, August 29, 2020 | 10:00 PM
Rumblings about Monessen possibly folding its proud football program because of low roster numbers were quickly stamped out when Shane Swope was hired during the winter to lead the Greyhounds.
Numbers actually began to grow over a coronavirus-disrupted spring and summer as Swope, a former Yough assistant, began his mission to flip the program into a regular contender again.
“There is no reason Monessen can’t win again,” said Swope, a Yough graduate. “I had to get out and find more players. These kids are proud to be from Monessen, and I knew there were a ton of good athletes in town.”
Swope, who helped renovate the team’s locker room and plans to give out a turnover chain and title belt as postgame awards, brings enthusiasm to the Greyhounds, who went 4-6 last season and did not make the WPIAL Class A playoffs.
“We have a lot of speed coming back,” Swope said, “but we’re going to be young. We only have a handful of seniors.”
And the younger players have been pushing the seniors for playing time.
An incoming freshman could take over at quarterback in Shane Swope Jr., the coach’s son who transferred from Yough.
His father believes he can step in and play right away. The younger Swope led Yough’s middle school team to a 12-3-1 record across two years, including an undefeated season in 2019, and did so in record-breaking fashion, breaking program marks set by the great Dustin Shoaf, who graduated two years ago as Yough’s all-time leading rusher.
“We have a lot of young guys, but we have a bright future,” Coach Swope said.
Among the slight senior group is running back Isaiah Beltram, who ran for 493 yards last season. The small but shifty Beltram should be a key ball carrier and run stopper at linebacker.
“The thing about him is that he has no film, but he is a special player,” coach Swope said. “He could line up everywhere for us.”
Add senior Elijah Davis to the backfield and the Greyhounds have a nice mix. The 200-pounder will be more of a power runner.
Beltram also has the potential to line up in wildcat packages at an unsettled quarterback spot that Swope had hoped to have ironed out by training camp.
Beltram played some quarterback last year.
The line took a hit when two players transferred out in senior Mark Mizerak (6-3, 290) and sophomore Trevian Thompson (6-0, 290). Mizerak left for Greensburg Central Catholic, while Thompson is now at Clairton.
While the Greyhounds won’t lead the Tri-County South in size up front, they will look to senior Taki Frezzell, sophomores Josh Arnold and Jaisean Blackman and junior Ethan Newman to clear running lanes.
Frezzell could see a shift to middle linebacker for a defense that could be strong at slowing the run.
Other players to watch include freshmen Jermere Majors, an H-back and defensive end, and Jamar Bethea, a running back; senior Milton Sanders, a receiver and linebacker/end; junior linebacker Dayton Carson; junior Greg Adams (RB/LB); junior Kiantae Robinson (RB/LB); junior Randy Hines (WR/DB); sophomore Nigier Foster (RB/DB); senior Che Hill (WR/DB); and junior Kody Kuhns, a tight end.
Foster has shown flashes during camp and could be one of the main ball carriers.
Senior Chas Mrlack, who strictly was a kicker last season, could see time at wide receiver and defensive back.
Coach: Shane Swope
2019 record: 4-6, 4-3 in Class A Tri-County South
All-time record: 668-375-47
Date, Opponent, Time
9.11, Avella*, 7
9.18, Bentworth*, 7
9.25, at Jefferson-Morgan*, 7
10.2, Mapletown*, 7
10.9, Carmichaels*, 7
10.16, at West Greene*, 7
10.23, at California*, 7
*Class A Tri-County South Conference game
Passing: Isaiah Beltram
31-55, 508 yards, 4 TDs
Receiving: Darius Stevenson*
9-215 yards, 4 TDs
Rushing: Isaiah Beltram
55-493 yards, 4 TDs
• Monessen has had just two winning seasons since 2013 but made the WPIAL quarterfinals in 2018.
• Mikey Blainefield, a former Greyhounds standout who played at Georgetown, resigned as coach after three seasons.
• Swope hopes to incorporate a spread offense to get the ball into the hands of his top playmakers.
• The Greyhounds scored one less point (247) than they allowed (248) last season.
Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .
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