West Xtra: Moon trying to halt losing season streak

HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL

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In every sport, fans always love to see the Cinderella team come away with the upset.

An obvious local example would be the 2013 Pittsburgh Pirates. After 20 consecutive losing seasons, not only did the Pirates end that dubious record-setting streak but they advanced to Major League Baseball's postseason playoffs.

Well ... a similar statement can be made about the Moon Area High School football team.

No, the Tigers and their fans have not suffered 20 consecutive seasons of losing, but they are on the cusp of their first winning season since 2006 when they went 6-5. Since that WPIAL playoff-qualifying season the Tigers have turned in consecutive records of 1-9, 0-9, 0-9, 3-6, 2-7 and 2-7.

But all of that can be forgotten with one win in their final three games.

The 2013 Tigers stand at 4-2 overall and in the Class AAA Parkway Conference. A win against either New Brighton, a non-conference opponent whom Moon plays on the road this Friday, or at home against New Castle or Montour, will get them over the hump and could possibly send them into the WPIAL playoffs.

In Class AAA, the top five teams in each conference qualify for the postseason, plus one "wild card" team from any of the league's three conferences.

"We are just working harder and trying to compete," third-year head coach Mark Washington said. "We are just trying to build the program up slowly but surely."

The Tigers lost a key piece to building that program last spring when star running back Anthony Colaianni went down with a knee injury.

Moon athletic director Ricci Rich told the Post-Gazette that Colaianni was "unlikely" to play this season, "but you never know ... maybe by the end of the season."

Colaianni led the team with 998 yards in nine games last year. Picking up a lot of the slack this year is Colaianni's classmate, Cole Blake, who has gained 737 yards and scored six touchdowns on 100 carries through the team's first six games.

Also contributing to the Tigers' improved offense is quarterback Aleksei Yaramus and receiver Ian Kelly.

Even with a 4-2 record, it could still be characterized as a roller coaster season for the Tigers as only one of their games has been decided by single digits.

"Most definitely we would like to see closer games," Washington said. "We are just trying to work harder on getting better and taking one game at a time."

With that mindset, the Tigers will prepare for their final away game and only non-conference game of the season on Friday at New Brighton (4-2).

New Brighton, which competes in the Class AA Midwestern Athletic Conference, has been an explosive offensive team this season, but the Lions suffered a serious setback when starting quarterback Gabe Greco went down with a leg injury two weeks ago.

Should the Tigers take advantage of the situation this Friday, another losing-season streak will come to an end.

hsfootball

First Published October 9, 2013 8:00 PM


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