Monday, August 20, 2012

Start Week 2: Monessen

I drove down to Monessen today to watch the Greyhounds at summer camp and talk with West Virginia recruit Chavas Rawlins, a tall, athletic quarterback who may very well fit the mold of Pat White and Geno Smith, two former Mountaineers who drastically improved their throwing in Morgantown.

I wrote a story for tomorrow’s print edition about this, so make sure to pick a copy of the O-R. For now, here’s a video I shot of Rawlins talking prior to the afternoon practice.

Before I jump into writing the preview tab story on Monessen, here are a couple of notes/impressions from today:

>>Chavas Rawlins will get most of the headlines this season, simply because of the position he plays. But his younger brother, Justice, who was an All-American linebacker as a freshman, is coming back from a torn ACL that wiped out his junior season.

I asked Greyhounds coach Andy Pacak how Justice has looked thus far, and the early returns have evidently been pretty good.

“He looks good,” Pacak said. “He busted his butt doing what he was supposed to do recovery-wise. Saturday [during the team’s scrimmage against Frazier] he was looking at me, and I was looking at him … after his first couple of hits he was back in the groove. I think he’ll be fine.”

Justice Rawlins, along with senior Keith Davis (39 carries, 185 yards, one touchdown) could help out in the offensive backfield, too, where Monessen graduated running back Jalen Madison (115 carries, 665 yards, nine touchdowns).

>>Speaking of Davis, this might be a sleeper – and not because it’s summer camp. He’s 5-foot-4, 140 pounds, but … how do I say this … wears that weight well, if in fact he is only 140 pounds. The kid is built and doesn’t look all that fun to tackle. It will be fun to see how Monessen uses him to complement Chavas Rawlins.

>>I know I’m new to the area, so my impressions are just that, my impressions; others have seen this stuff before. But I really thought Monessen’s football facilities were cool.

Memorial Stadium is situated right on the road, backing up to people’s yards. They have the yardlines painted on the bottom of the stands, and the field itself is sunken way down, allowing the players to walk down steps or two ramps out of the locker room.

It’s one of those places that, if you lived (and covered high school football) somewhere else, really rings of Western Pennsylvania.

Just remind me to stay on the sidelines when I cover a game there. The press box is WAY far away from the field. Not too friendly a walk/sprint on deadline.

>>Monessen moves into a new conference this season. Perennially the angry big brother of the Tri-County South, the Greyhounds get a chance to pick on someone their own size when they join the WPIAL Class A Black Hills Conference alongside 2011 playoff teams Brentwood, Fort Cherry, Chartiers-Houston, Bishop Canevin, Clairton and California.

This will be one of the main aspects of my preview tab story, but I thought I would close with a couple of preview quotes:

Davis: “Everybody’s been talking about us needing to be in a new conference. Time to step it up. We’ll see how it is this year.”

Chavas Rawlins: “We expect every game to be like a playoff game, every week,” Rawlins said. “Last year we blew past some teams, not that much competition. But this year will be different. Every game will be a must-win game.”

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