Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Town of Champions, Part II
Yesterday, we looked at the rich athletic tradition at Washington High School. Today, we look at Monessen High.
Monessen High School
Few communities can claim a heavyweight boxing champion. Monessen can in favorite son Michael Moorer, who defeated legend Evander Holyfield for the IBF and WBA belts on April 22, 1994 by majority decision. Moorer was also a light heavyweight champion during a career that saw him go 52-4-1 with 40 wins by knockout. Moorer occasionally appears at Monessen athletic events, particularly the Greyhounds' high-profile football games.
Monessen also earns bonus points for being the birthplace of Coolio (pictured), the hip-hop artist responsible for hits such as "Fantastic Voyage", "Gangsta's Paradise", and my personal favorite, "Smokin' Sticks".
When it comes to high school sports, few boast as rich a tradition or as rabid a following. From former football coach Jack Scarvel to current boys basketball coach Joe Salvino, those teams keep the trophy case filled outside the Greyhounds intimidating gymnasium.
Monessen's 2007 WPIAL Class A quarterfinal football win over Monaca was the program's 600th victory as it became the sixth school in WPIAL history to reach the milestone. Greats such as Jo Jo Heath, Julius Dawkins, Eric Crabtree, Andy Dzurinko and current Pitt nose tackle Ernest "Mick" Williams call Monessen home. Monessen won WPIAL titles in 1930 and 1961 and were runners-up in 1995. Many consider the 1921 team, which outscored its final seven opponents, 190-0 as its best.
The Greyhounds have won five WPIAL boys basketball titles, including back-to-back championships in 2001 and 2002, teams which were led by former Robert Morris standout A.J. Jackson. Monessen won consecutive PIAA Class A titles in 1988 and 89 and were state runners-up in 1923.
Girls basketball also boasts a rich tradition. Gina Naccarato and Charel Allen are the top two scorers in WPIAL history, both with over 3,000 points. Naccarato played at Duquesne and is an assistant for Major Corley's girls. Allen is playing in the WNBA with the Sacramento Monarchs. Monessen won WPIAl titles in 1995, 2004 and 2006 in addition to being runners-up in 2008. The Greyhounds won a state title in 2004.