Skilled seniors return to lead Canon-McMillan
Friday, August 13, 2021 | 6:01 AM
Editor’s note: Starting today, Trib HSSN will preview at least one WPIAL conference per day until the start of high school football season Aug. 27.
In 2018 and ‘19, Canon-McMillan won a total of seven games, but qualified for the WPIAL Class 6A football playoffs both seasons.
Last year, the Big Macs finished at .500 with a 3-3 overall record, but missed out on the postseason with a fifth-place finish.
“It was a strange year dealing with covid and the cancellation of four games, one of them twice,” Canon-McMillan coach Mike Evans said. “I would’ve liked very much to see how that 2020 team would have handled the 10-game schedule we were supposed to play. We had a solid team that worked very hard. Missing out on the playoffs was our own fault. It came down to us needing to beat Seneca Valley, and we didn’t get it done.”
The losses to Central Catholic, North Allegheny and Seneca Valley ended the modest two-year playoff run for the once struggling program.
With six starters back on offense and five on defense, plus an additional team added to the Class 6A postseason, there is optimism that another playoff streak can begin this fall.
“We played a bunch of these seniors this year as sophomores,” Evans said. “We started Ryan Angott, Deuce Lyons, Chris Davis, Braiden Africa, Sean Lesnock and Julius Pruss to name a few of them. We went 3-8 that year with a loss at NA in the playoffs. We knew we would take our lumps that year, but we also knew that these kids are resilient and would gain priceless experience and confidence, so we are excited to see these guys play as seniors.”
Angott led the Big Macs in rushing in both his sophomore and junior seasons with a combined 1,568 yards and 15 touchdowns.
“Ryan is a leader and an exceptional player,” Evans said. “We have a solid core of seniors that we are excited about.”
Besides some experience, Evans likes the athleticism of his team, especially the wide receivers and defensive backs.
“We feel that we have a faster team with more playmakers than in years past,” he said. “We have three to five wide receivers we can count on and a secondary with athleticism and experience. Offensively, we have to find creative ways to get the ball distributed to these guys.”
Last year’s leading receiver for the Big Macs agreed.
“Our offense will be as good as we make it,” Chris Davis said. “If we continue to work hard in the weight room and do the right things on and off the field, I believe our offense can be explosive and fun. We have talent throughout the whole offense. I’m excited.”
While there are plenty of athletes at the skilled positions, there is some concern up front in the trenches.
“The defensive line room took a hit with graduation,” Evans said. “We have one or two guys with some experience up front, but lost some very good football players there. Coach Evan Kelly has been hired and charged with developing our front four. We have some holes to fill up front on the O-Line as well, but return more there and have a bit more experience.”
Other Big Macs to watch this season include junior LB/TE Kent McMahon, a three-year starter, along with senior WR/DB Anthony Finney.
There was little room separating the top six teams in Class 6A a year ago. Davis feels there could be change in the classification.
“I think 6A might be a little different this year,” he said. “It will be something to see.”
Evans doesn’t expect much to change when it comes to competitiveness.
“From what I can tell it will be as tough as ever,” Evans said. “It’s a grind week in and week out. It’s also the best time of the year.”
Coach: Mike Evans
2019 record: 3-3, 3-3 in Class 6A
All-time record: 383-521-43
Date, Opponent, Time
8.27, at Trinity, 7
9.3, Peters Township, 7
9.10, at Bethel Park, 7
9.17, at Mt. Lebanon*, 7
9.24, Baldwin*, 7
10.1, Hempfield*, 7
10.8, at Seneca Valley*, 7:30
10.15, North Allegheny*, 7
10.22, at Norwin*, 7
10.29, Central Catholic*, 7
Passing: Lamont Lyons
35-64, 389 yards, 3 TDs
Receiving: Chris Davis
6-114, 2 TDs
Rushing: Ryan Angott
93-672, 7 TDs
• Mike Evans begins his seventh season as head coach at Canon-McMillan.
• In the previous decade, Canon-McMillan lost to Mt. Lebanon all 10 times by a combined score of 393-119. Trailing 17-0 to the Blue Devils at halftime last season, the Big Macs rallied for a memorable, 24-17 victory.
• While the Big Macs’ playoff streak ended at two last year, another drought continued. It has been 16 years since Canon-McMillan won a WPIAL football playoff game. In November of 2004, Canon-McMillan shut out Belle Vernon, 22-0, in a Class AAA first-round game.
• This is the 115th season of Canon-McMillan football, including preceding schools in the district. The Big Macs have a record of 383-521-43.
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