Moon head football coach Ryan Linn has learned a lot in the first five weeks on the job.
“First couple games are like being resilient—things are going to work, things aren’t going to work,” Linn said. “Just how much are you willing to continue to keep working towards getting better and being a better football team.”
More importantly, the Tigers are showing improvement under Linn. Outside of a Week 2 loss to Upper St. Clair, they have been in every game this season. Their two most recent victories have seen them stage second half rallies against league opponents Hampton and North Hills. Against the latter, the Tigers trailed 17-3 before scoring four second half touchdowns, including two in the fourth quarter to prevail, 38-31, last week.
Linn believes the two wins demonstrate the Tigers’ growth from a season ago. “It showed them they could finish games.” Linn said. “I think that’s what helped the last two weeks, a mindset they can win these close, tight games that in the past we haven’t been able to do.”
He specifically alluded to team’s narrow loss to Woodland Hills in Week 8 last year. The Tigers drove to the Wolverines’ five-yard line with a chance to put the game away late but failed to score. Woodland Hills answered by going 95 yards for the game-winning touchdown. Moon got the ball back with less than a minute remaining, and Linn said you could see the look of defeat in the players’ eyes. That was not the case against Hampton and North Hills.
“When you looked at the kids, there was no defeat—they knew they could do this,” Linn said.
The two victories kept the Tigers near the top of the Allegheny Nine Conference standings and their playoff hopes very much alive. Moon hosts Fox Chapel (1-4) Friday and a winless Chartiers Valley team next week. Linn knows in order for the Tigers to keep up their winning ways, they must remain steady in their everyday approach.
“That’s what we’ve been preaching on being consistent,” Linn said. “Handling your business, and doing the little things week in and week out that are going to make you a solid football team. We’re taking those steps. One more would be great because it gets you one step closer to the playoffs.”
Moon hasn’t won a playoff game since 2007, and after missing the postseason a year ago, the Tigers are entering a critical stretch of the schedule that could easily define their season.
“Right now, we’re pleased with where we’re at,” Linn said. “We’re in a good spot here, but we still have further aspirations to go than just a couple wins. We want to keep pushing to get to the playoffs and see what can happen once we get there.”