MONESSEN – For nine years, the bridge that connects Charleroi and Monessen across the Monongahela River has had a specific order to its name. Which community comes first reflects which high school football team wins the annual grudge match, which began in 1907, goes first followed by the loser.
Beginning in 2007, WPIAL realignment put the Charleroi-Monessen high school football rivalry on ice, so the bridge kept the Monessen-Charleroi moniker to commemorate the Greyhounds’ win from the last time the two teams played.
Though the two varsity programs have scrimmaged each other the past four years, this year marked the return of the rivalry in its proper form: under the lights to begin the high school football season.
On Friday evening, Charleroi made the short drive across the Monessen-Charleroi Bridge to Memorial Stadium to face the Greyhounds, hoping that by the time they made the return trip later that night, they would have done enough to flip the name.
Though the Cougars failed to score any second half points, the advantage they built from a 16-point second quarter proved enough to come away with a 23-21 victory.
After going winless a year ago, Charleroi added to its lead in the all-time series 48-43-9.
It was the 100th meeting between the teams. Since 2003, Monessen had a 3-2 edge. Before the contest, Monessen seniors said they had never lost to the Cougars at any level in football. Charleroi’s younger generation, including sophomore Charleroi quarterback Geno Pellegrini, have won some past games against younger Greyhound teams, but the dynamic that Monessen beats Charleroi still persisted.
One Monessen supporter could be heard explaining to someone in the first quarter, “I don’t care if they lose any games. Just don’t lose to Charleroi.”
Charleroi senior running back and linebacker Ericct Tedrow knew the history having lost to Monessen his whole life before last night, but he changed the narrative through his offensive play on the ground, including a 36-yard touchdown carry where he shed at least one tackle to give his team a 16-13 lead with just more than two minutes to go in the first half. Postgame Tedrow deflected the credit to his offensive line.
“They opened the holes. I ran through them,” Tedrow said. “I ran harder than I ever did in my entire life.”
After opening a 13-point advantage to start the game, Monessen found itself chasing Charleroi late in the first half and beyond. The Greyhounds shrunk the deficit to two after a successful two-point conversion by sophomore running back Vaughn Taylor with just under 51/2 minutes to go in the third quarter. But they couldn’t put together one final scoring drive to complete the comeback, though they had possession with less than two minutes to go.
Tedrow credited his team’s ability to bend but not break on defense to a new shared mindset on that side of the ball.
“Last year, we were a stomping ground. This year, it’s different. We’ve got new players,” he said. “We got a new system, and we’ve got new players. I can’t ask for anything more.”