California invades Monessen
MONESSEN – Joe Fischer did a double take when he first read the score: California Area 36, Frazier 6.
“That’s not because I thought California was a bad team,” Fischer explained. “With how tough Frazier played us, I just thought it would be a lot closer.”
So did California coach Joe Kuhns.
“I might have been as shocked as (Fischer) with the score,” Kuhns said. “We got a couple breaks here and there and scored on some long runs to make a close game not-so-close.”
Fresh off the big win, the Trojans (1-1, 2-2) invade Memorial Stadium tonight for a Class A Tri-County South Conference duel with the Greyhounds (2-0, 4-0).
California was supposed to be vulnerable to extremely quick or large teams. With the exception of a 34-0 loss to Carmichaels, the Trojans have stayed tough on both fronts.
“If you look at their scores, they beat Frazier soundly, beat Riverview and played tough against Clairton,” Fischer said. “Judging from the other scores, California is obviously a disciplined, motivated group of kids. In order for us to have success, we have to focus on every snap.”
With Josh Bongiorno at fullback and Chris Guerra and Brad Wright at tailback, California’s runners can pack a wallop. While the Trojans don’t have any bona fide breakaway threats, they broke three scoring plays of 45 yards or more against Frazier. Quarterback Parke Bongiorno, who had touchdown scampers of 45 and 65 yards, proved he is as much a threat on the ground as through the air.
“If I had another quarterback he’d be our tailback,” Kuhns said. “We’re going to have to try and keep up with them, because I don’t think we’re going to shut them down.”
Monessen, likewise, has collected a plethora of big plays.
Kuhns is all too aware of Monessen’s arsenal of running backs featuring Quinton Martin and Ernest Williams. The combo toasted California last season with 229 yards on the ground. Wideout Robert Youngblood is also capable of scoring anytime he has the ball.
“Being the defensive coach, this is the team that gives you migraines because you have to seal off the entire field,” Kuhns said. “It’s impossible to get tendencies, because they use different backs and if you fill the gap, they cut it back and run for big gains.”
As for a potential letdown for Monessen this week, Fischer quickly dismissed the notion.
“Last week was our letdown week,” Fischer said curtly, referring to his team’s slow start in a 33-11 win at Geibel. “We still have a variety of firepower. We’re ready to go.”