Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wash High set to face balanced Mt. Pleasant Friday night

The setting and match up could not be scripted more perfectly.

Well, obviously a Week 9 game would hold a little more weight, but you can’t understate how important Friday night is for Wash High (4-0, 4-0).

The Prexies are coming off a 51-12 victory over Brownsville and are trying to grab hold of the Interstate Conference. They can do that with a victory over Mt. Pleasant (4-0, 4-0).

Two weeks after Wash High struggled against Waynesburg’s run-heavy offense, it faces a similar test with the Vikings. The big difference is that while the Raiders run right at you, Mt. Pleasant uses sweeps and counters to throw a defense off balance.

When their opponent bites on a counter, senior quarterback Nate Piesczak keeps it and darts through the line for a large gain. He can also throw the football better than any of Wash High’s opponents so far. Piesczak has completed 26 passes for 318 yards and three touchdowns. He’s also rushed for 175 yards and two scores. MP is averaging 37.3 points per game, while the Prexies are sixth in WPIAL Class AA with 168 points.

The one thing that stands out about the Vikings is they are fundamentally sound. Their defense will adhere to its assignments in a 4-4 set and will likely try to stop Prexies senior running back Malik Wells. Mt. Pleasant isn’t the biggest team, but they are well-coached.

The Vikings have allowed 20 points per game, but that number is clouded with two wins over Derry and Burgettstown where they only allowed seven points. In wins over McGuffey and the Raiders, MP allowed a combined 66 points.

What does that say? Well, Wash High should be able to put some points on the scoreboard. How they do that will be the biggest question. You know that Vikings head coach Bo Ruffner will be watching the Prexies’ game film against Waynesburg. He’s going to look for answers on how to stop Wash High’s running game and senior wide receiver DeQuay Isbell.

While he may be able to come up with a few packages to stack the box to contain Wells, it’s not going to be simple. Wash High runs a balanced attack and the Prexies are no longer one-dimensional. 

Senior quarterback Jonathan Spina can hurt teams with his arm and legs. Isbell is one of the best offensive weapons in WPIAL Class AA. Plus, there are other players such as fullback Kenya Davis and tight end Nate Swart that have to be accounted for. Don't forget that junior running back Jordan West is returning from a broken hand and will probably go back to sharing carries with Wells, which makes the Prexies even stronger.

That means doubling Isbell every play won’t be the answer. The Vikings will leave themselves susceptible to the running game and could leave the other passing weapons open.

On offense for Mt. Pleasant, Wash High will need to closely watch wide receiver L.J. Sutton. While Waynesburg head coach Russ Moore didn’t know who Sutton was after he burned them last week, I bet Mike Bosnic is aware of Sutton. Also, the Vikings have a pair of tailbacks in Jake Adamrovich and Trevor Salopek that can do some damage.

Adamrovich is a hard-nosed, between-the-tackles runner, while Salopek does most of his damage on the jet sweep to the outside.

This is going to be a game where points will be scored, but the winner will be decided on who can make a big stop when its needed or create a big turnover to shift momentum. I still don’t see any team in the Interstate Conference knocking off Wash High’s combination of size and speed.

Yes, the win over Waynesburg showed they aren’t perfect, but outside of Clairton and South Fayette, what team is perfect in Week 3? It won’t take perfect to beat the Vikings, but it will take discipline and tackling.

If the Prexies can’t contain MP’s running game, it’s going to be a long night for them at Wash High Stadium. 

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