The 2012 Neshannock Lancer football team did something which no other group had done before. That’s win a playoff game. They didn’t just win one, they won two. On November 2, Neshannock ousted Jefferson Morgan, 42-14. Then, the following week, the Lancers edged Monessen (24-21). In the District Semifinal round, Neshannock could not get by Clairton (37-7), who would go onto win their fourth consecutive PIAA State Title.
Coach Fred Mozzocio begins his second season at the helm and he returns a bevy of talent including his stud quarterback (Ernie Burkes) and tailback (Eli Owens). Burkes threw for over 1500 yards while Owens gained close to 1300 on the ground.
The Lancers open 2013 with back-to-back home dates against Western Beaver (August 30) and Laurel (September 6).
2013 Neshannock Lancers’ Football Preview
by Vince Pellegrini (@Vince_MYVS)
Head Coach: Fred Mozzocio, 2nd season (10-2)
2012 Record: 10-2 (7-1), WPIAL – Big Seven (A)
2012 Post-Season Finish: Lost in the WPIAL Class A Semifinal to Clairton, 37-7, on November 16.
2012 Team Statistics
Points Scored: 36.7 (5th in Area)
Points Allowed: 18.6 (17th in Area)
Passing: Ernie Burkes – 1560 yards, 58.6 Comp. % (116-198)
Rushing: Eli Owens – 169 att, 1268 yards
Receiving: Eli Owens – 13 rec, 96 yards
Aug. 30 – Western Beaver, 7:30 PM
Sept. 6 – Laurel, 7:30 PM
Sept. 13 – at Sto-Rox, 7:30 PM
Sept. 20 – Shenango, 7:30 PM
Sept. 27 – at South Side Beaver, 7:30 PM
Oct. 4 – Rochester, 7:30 PM
Oct. 11 – Our Lady of Sacred Heart, 7:30 PM
Oct. 18 – at North Catholic, 7:30 PM
Oct. 25 – at Union, 7:30 PM
Offensive Strength: Obviously, you will not have to look any further than behind center to find the strength of the offense. Ernie Burkes has been lights out. The senior signal caller threw for 1,560 yards and ran for another 802 stripes in 2012. He will be the catalyst for an explosive offense which also features one of the top undergraduate runners in Eli Owens (1,268 rushing yards, 9 total TDs).
Offensive Weakness: The team’s top two receiving targets both depart after sensational senior campaigns. John Conglose (41 catches, 596 yards) and Alex Welker (40 catches, 708 receiving yards; 224 rushing yards) will both be missed by the offense.
Defensive Strength: The Lancers’ front seven returns oodles of talented seniors. Defensive linemen Ralph DoVidio and Steven Jeffries join linebackers Gianni Oliva and Mike Rodriguez in the fold when Neshannock takes the field.
Defensive Weakness: A weakness could be in the secondary where they lost First-Team All-Big Seven players Alex Welker and John Conglose.
Storylines Facing the Lancers
1. Burkes, Burkes, Burkes. Senior quarterback Ernie Burkes may not have the same weapons around him that he once did a year ago but he still is the most dynamic player on the field. Burkes gained over 195 yards per game of total offense from scrimmage a year ago.
2. Defense Wins Games. Neshannock has had a stellar defensive unit over the course of the last three years. In each season, the Lancers have allowed 19 points per game or less. Prior to this stint, Neshannock’s defense had permitted their opponents to score over 21 points in the previous five campaigns.
3. Post-Season Drought. In 2004, Neshannock post-season drought ended. In 2012, the school’s first win in the playoffs was established. What’s next for the Lancers?
Did you know? In the Lancers’ first playoff win in school history against Jefferson Morgan, Ernie Burkes scored a total of six touchdowns (3 rushing/3 passing).