West Greene ready to build off successful 2018 season

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Tuesday, August 20, 2019 | 4:50 PM


If West Greene’s 2018 season was turned into a movie script, producers might shy away from it because it wouldn’t seem realistic.

There was a five-game winning streak, a game shy of the total number of wins the program had from 2013-16 combined.

West Greene earned a share of the Class A Tri-County Conference championship, its first in 25 years.

The three-way tie between the Pioneers, California and Monessen led to a rare coin flip to decide how the three teams would be seeded.

West Greene won the coin toss and hosted a quarterfinals playoff game.

Sort of.

Because field conditions the playoff game was moved to Waynesburg.

The dream season ended harshly as Rochester came to Greene County and pummeled the banged-up Pioneers, 52-14.

Brian Hanson took over as the Pioneers football coach for Rob Huffman, leaving his head coaching job at Wicomico (Md.) after three years.

“Well, my wife and I lived in Western Pa. for around 15 to 16 years and we missed it,” Hanson said on why he returned. “Most of our family is in Pa., and it’s nice to be near them. I had a couple of opportunities to coach at other schools, but I really liked what I saw in West Greene.

“The rural atmosphere was something that appealed to me. I think that when you live in a rural area there are both challenges and rewards. The challenge is the geographical size of our district and many of our kids work on farms during the summers. The reward is most of our kids really look to sports as an outlet. I believe isolation limits distractions in team sports.”

The excitement from last season’s conference title run should carry over to this fall as the Pioneers return six starters on offense and eight on defense.

The big gun on offense returning for the Pioneers is running back Ben Jackson. Though he missed time at the end of the regular season because of injuries, the 6-foot-1, 220-pound Jackson rushed for 1,541 yards and 26 touchdowns. Jackson has topped 1,000 yards rushing three times.

“He has all the physical skills you desire, but what impresses me are his intangibles,” Hanson said. “He’s a great teammate.”

Senior quarterback Gavin Scott threw for more than 600 yards and four touchdowns a year ago. He also rushed for four touchdowns.

Other returning Pioneers include senior linemen Brock Bedilion (6-1, 290) and Gregory Staggers (6-5, 285), tight end and linebacker Andrew Litton (6-1, 185) and running back/linebackers Kolin Walker (6-1, 205) and Corey Wise (5-10, 195).

“I’m very confident in our line this year, especially with two returning seniors in Brock and Staggers,” Jackson said. “Our defense is also looking great. We have some depth in different positions, so we’re looking to do big things.”

“The group that took the field last year was a group that had been pretty successful at every level,” Hanson said. “I believe their biggest frustration is getting over the hump against very good teams such as California, Clairton and Rochester. In order to improve upon last year, we need to stay healthy. But we really need to become more physical on the line of scrimmage.”

Jackson said the Pioneers will be more physical and better than a year ago.

“We’ve had more people come to summer lifts and practices this year. This year should be one of our best yet. We plan on going deep into the playoffs.”

Schedule

Coach: Brian Hanson

2018 record: 7-4, 6-1

All-time record: 190-400-10

Date, Opponent, Time

8.26, Cameron (W. Va.), 7

8.30, Bentworth*, 7

9.6, Chartiers-Houston*, 7

9.13, at Mapletown*, 7

9.20, at Monessen*, 7

9.27, Avella*, 7

10.4, California*, 7

10.11, at Clairton, 7

10.18 Jefferson-Morgan*, 7

10.25, at Union, 7

*Class A Tri-County South Conference game

Statistical leaders

Passing: Gavin Scott

35-82, 603 yards, 4 TDs

Rushing: Ben Jackson

156-1,541 yards, 26 TDs

Receiving: Nathan Brudnock*

23-400 yards, 7 TDs

*Graduated

Don Rebel hosts the Rebel Yell podcasts for HSSN.

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