This article was written and released by Don Rebel from tribhssn.com. --> https://tribhssn.triblive.com/canon-mcmilan-starting-to-stack-up-playoff-appearances/
For nearly 10 years, the Canon-McMillan football team was a spectator to postseason football.
From 2009-17, the Big Macs’ season never carried over to November.
However, the team is now riding a new streak coming into the third decade of the century. Canon-McMillan is coming off back-to-back playoff appearances.
Sure, they have been outscored 86-38 in Class 6A quarterfinals losses to Mt. Lebanon and North Allegheny, but Canon-McMillan coach Mike Evans likes the growth he is seeing in his program.
“Considering what we dealt with as a team last year, including injuries at key positions, the kids kept their composure, never gave up and found a way to get to the postseason,” he said. “We were very young and the team grew up.”
A young and inexperienced defense a year ago allowed the second-most points in Class 6A. However, nine players return on that side of the ball.
“I love the experience this young unit received last year,” Evans said. “They are bigger and still relatively young.”
Up front on the line are seniors Connor McMahon, David Mowod and Mario Eafrati with junior Sean Lesnock, senior Austin Mankey and sophomore Matt Brooks in the mix at tackle.
“I think we have a strong defensive side this year,” McMahon said. “Our D-line has strong, big athletes and our secondary is strong and fast.”
“I’m excited to see these guys play with an improved secondary led by cornerback Chris Davis Jr. and safety Logan North,” Evans said.
Players such as Anthony Finney, Deuce Lyons, Austin Hillebrand, Treyvon Mullen, Brandon Postler and Mason Shaffer battle it out with more depth behind them.
“I think they’ll make key plays to put us in a spot to win this year,” McMahon said.
The linebacker corps is led by seniors Alec Blazer and Dane Matuscin with junior Ryan Angott, sophomore Kent McMahon, senior Matthew Kessler and Brendan Davis in the mix.
On offense, the running game is in good hands in Angott, who rushed for 896 yards and averaged 5.4 yards per carry.
“We are excited about Ryan having the type of success he had last year as only a sophomore,” Evans said. “He will be the first to tell you his success was due to a lot of factors, including his teammates working hard. But Ryan deserves credit as it’s not easy to start 11 games in 6A at the running back position in this league as just a 10th grader.
“We are looking forward to developing a few more backs to help carry the load this year.”
The running game will be big early on as the team adjusts to a new quarterback to fill the shoes left by three-year starter in Jon Quinque.
“JQ was one of the best quarterbacks we have had here in a while,” Evans said. “He broke 10 passing records and helped us win some key games.”
Three players are in the mix to take over as the starting quarterback in September. Sophomore Ben Urso started two games and came in off the bench when Quinque went down at Pine-Richland. Junior Deuce Lyons was moved from quarterback to wide receiver last year to get his athleticism on the field. He started the last two games of the season. The third QB is freshmen Mike Evans. The coach’s son has shown some promise in his first camp.
After qualifying for the WPIAL playoffs the last two years, Evans likes the direction his team is going.
“I think we are bridging the gap with the top half of the league,” he said. “(I’m) excited about the trajectory of the program.”
As one of the team captains, McMahon also is optimistic.
“I am confident we can make the playoffs again this year and make it past the first round,” he said. “We have a really good team this year and there is a very strong connection between all the players.”
Coach: Mike Evans
2019 record: 3-8, 3-5 in Class 6A
All-time record: 380-518-43
Date, Opponent, Time
9.11, at Central Catholic*, 7
9.18, Mt. Lebanon*, 7
9.25, at Baldwin*, 7
10.2, at Hempfield*, 7
10.9, Seneca Valley*, 7
10.16, at North Allegheny*, 7:30
10.23, Norwin*, 7
*Class 6A game
Passing: Jon Quinque*
92-158, 1,054 yards, 5 TDs
Receiving: Blake Joseph*
55-737 yards, 7 TDs
Rushing: Ryan Angott
166-896 yards, 8 TDs
• Canon-McMillan is 0-4 in the playoffs since moving up to the WPIAL’s highest classification in 2006. The Big Macs have been outscored in those four losses by a combined score of 129-51 by Penn Hills in 2007, Shaler in 2008, Mt. Lebanon in 2018 and North Allegheny in 2019.
• The last time the Big Macs won a WPIAL football playoff game was in November of 2004 when they shut out Belle Vernon, 22-0, in a Class AAA first-round game. They lost to West Mifflin in the quarterfinals, 21-7.
• In the last five years, Canon-McMillan has won a combined 19 games. That might not sound like much, but in the previous five years from 2010-14, the Big Macs won a grand total of three games combined with two winless seasons.
• Mike Evans has helped engineer the Big Macs’ turnaround as he begins his sixth season as head coach. Before coming to Canon-McMillan, Evans was a college assistant coach at Cal (Pa.) and Saginaw Valley State.