MONROE -- With an offense full of headline-stealing playmakers, it's easy for the Masuk defense to develop a Rodney Dangerfield complex.
But the other side of the ball for the unbeaten Panthers (9-0) could share the limelight Thursday night, pitching their first shutout of the season with a 49-0 romp of Weston at Benedict Field.
The victory secured Masuk's spot in the SWC championship game opposite Newtown (9-0) on Thanksgiving Eve.
"(Our offense has) great players, but we like to think that the defense is the star of the team even though they get all the publicity," senior linebacker Brad Swain said.
Masuk was really a team full of stars in the first half and a 42-0 halftime lead really left no doubt who one of the premier teams in the state continues to be this season.
"We got off to a good, fast start and played really well defensively," Masuk coach John Murphy said.
Despite being sacked on the first play, senior quarterback Brandon Charney got the offense going by getting the ball to senior Thomas Milone, who turned a short reception into a 31-yard gain into Weston territory. Three plays later, Charney, who played with junior Malik Cummings (ankle) sitting out, connected with Andy Fredeen for a 34-yard touchdown pass, and after the first of seven extra points from Chris Rubis, the rout was on.
"We put the ball in Thomas' hands and he made an unbelievable play to get us going," Murphy said. "Then we played well defensively and that set us up. We've just been getting better all year."
Swain, who has been playing with an injured shoulder all season, set the defensive tone on Weston's first possession, stuffing Peter Lummis for a 2-yard loss. On the next play, Swain was right in the mix again, hauling down quarterback Tyler Hassett after he bobbled the snap, and Milone scooped in to recover the fumble.
"We came in very excited," said Milone, who will be focusing on his first love, baseball, this weekend when the New York Yankees come to visit him. "We prepped really well. We knew this team was going to be a little tough, so we had to go out and do what had to be done."
Senior Frank Bacarella converted the turnover, which set up Masuk's offense at the Trojans' 16-yard line, into a 9-yard touchdown run to make it 14-0 with 9:05 still remaining in the first quarter.
Hassett (34 rushing yards, 36 passing yards) directed the Trojans to a pair of first downs on the next series before punting. Weston managed just 96 yards offense in the half with its first string and was stuffed at the goal line by Masuk on the final play before halftime.
"It's a great morale stop for us," Swain said. "Get the whole team going at halftime and get ready to come back out."
Milone made the play of the night on Masuk's third offensive series. The senior caught a short pass from Charney (4-for-5, 178 yards, 2 TDs) before starting down the left side, weaving in and out of traffic like he was dodging bumper cars, before cutting across the field to finish his 73-yard touchdown and make it 21-0.
"I just really followed my blockers and went where I saw the hole," said Milone, who caught two passes for 104 yards. "I can't really take credit for that one."
"Thomas Milone, I've never seen -- that's the athlete I am going to be talking about for years to come," Weston coach Joe Lato said.
In the second quarter, Bacarella (nine carries, 77 yards) added two short touchdown runs and Milone (2-25) added a 4-yard scoring run. Mike Dellapiano capped the scoring with a 4-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
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WESTON 0 0 0 0--0
MASUK 21 21 7 0--49
M--Andy Fredeen 34 pass Brandon Charney (Chris Rubis kick)
M--Frank Bacarella 9 run (Rubis kick)
M--Thomas Milone 73 pass Charney (Rubis kick)
M--Frank Bacarella 3 run (Rubis kick)
M--Frank Bacarella 8 run (Rubis kick)
M--Milone 4 run (Rubis kick)
M--Mike Dellapiano 4 run (Rubis kick)
Records: Weston 7-2; Masuk 9-0