Thursday, August 28, 2014

Different players, same system for Mount Pleasant

James Duchi
Mt. Pleasant averaged almost 42 points per game in 2013, which included an Interstate Conference title and a WPIAL Class AA playoff victory.

The Vikings rolled to a perfect regular season record and defeated Wash High on the road. Mount Pleasant runs a spread offense with a wing-t philosophy that is very similar to Karns City's. They use several different running backs and are not afraid to let their quarterback run through the tackles.

Losing its two biggest pieces might change a few things. Running back Tyler Mellors, the school's all-time leading rusher, gained 1,738 yards and scored 29 touchdowns in 2013. The Vikings' quarterback, Ryan Gumbita, is also gone after throwing nine touchdowns and running for three more.

Head coach Bo Ruffner's system is run-first while using play-action to keep defenses off balance. Senior Nathan Pieszak takes over under center , while Ruffner will use a stable of running backs to help replace Mellors.

The Vikings are a program that never rebuilds, they reload. That is aided by a freshman program that runs the same offense as the varsity and even the youth coaches are teaching their players how to effectively run an option offense.

That familiarity makes the transition smooth after graduating players like Mellors and Gumbita. Mount Pleasant lost 18 other players to graduation, but have 18 returning seniors. The Vikings lost their top four rushers - Mellors, Ryan Ballew, Brett Fess and Gumbita.

The leading returner is junior Jake Adamrovich, who ran for 150 yards on 21 carries with four touchdowns. Trevor Salopek led the Vikings with 284 receiving yards, but will switch to running back to help with depth at the position.

This team still has speed and skill at the wide receiver positions with a small, but athletic offensive line. Their linemen will have trouble with McGuffey's which should use its strength to disrupt the option offense.

I did pick McGuffey to win this game. James Duchi is in for a breakout season. If he was not stuck behind Patrick Frey for the past two years, Duchi's name would be well-known throughout the WPIAL. My concern with the Highlanders is depth on the offensive line. They can not afford an injury there or at linebacker.

The return of Nathan Whipkey at quarterback with Adam Narigon at wide receiver is a great combination for an offense that will pass more than people expect. On paper, the Highlanders have the advantage over Mount Pleasant, which could translate to McGuffey's first win in the Interstate Conference.

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