Wade Brown remembers some of the best days of Monessen football. He had up-close-and-personal encounters with those Greyhounds teams.
“I played on state championship teams (at Duquesne) in both football and basketball, and our toughest games in both sports were against Monessen,” Brown recalled.
Brown is counting on Monessen rekindling some of its success in football. So much so that the 44-year-old Brown was hired Tuesday night as the Greyhounds’ new head coach. Brown succeeds Shane Swope, who resigned after one season.
Brown spent the last two years coaching the offensive and defensive lines at West Mifflin. A Duquesne native and McKeesport resident, Brown was the head middle school coach at South Allegheny for three years and spent 16 years coaching youth football in Duquesne.
Brown has applied for only one other varsity head coaching job in his career but he does like a good challenge. He’s found one at Monessen.
The Greyhounds’ once-proud football program has been in a free fall in recent years and hit bottom this past season when it forfeited its final three games because of a lack of players. Monessen finished 0-7, both in the Class A Tri-County South Conference and overall. The Greyhounds played only four games but two of those were losses by only eight points each, to Bentworth (14-6) and Jefferson-Morgan (22-14).
Getting a workable number of boys out for the team is the first challenge that awaits Brown.
“I think I can appeal to the kids,” Brown said. “I will let them know that I come from the same area and I know their struggles. I can relate to them and help them navigate certain situations to help them be competitive both on the football field and in the classroom. I want them to know that I am there for their best interests.”
Brown said that one of the appealing parts of the Monessen job is the potential the program has. Brown believes the Greyhounds have a “high ceiling.” Brown cites Monessen’s basketball success as proof, though that might have worked against the football program in recent years.
“I think the low numbers they had might have had something to do with the basketball success they’ve had over the years. They have always been good in basketball,” Brown said. “They’ve had some good years in football, but when was their last championship? They’ve won championships in basketball, so some guys might have thought they would only go out for basketball.
“Football is a tough sport. It’s hard to put in all that work every day and not always see the results.”
Brown cautioned that turning around the Greyhounds will take time. It will not be a quick fix.
“Have patience – those were my words to the school board, the athletic director and principal,” he said. “They must have the understanding that this is not going to be an overnight fix. But in me they have a guy who is not going to abandon the program after one year if things don’t go well.”