Jeannette looking to bounce back against Mt. Pleasant
Jeannette won't have any problems being ready for visiting Mt. Pleasant on Friday night. Don't worry about that.
That seems to be the message Jeannette coach Roy Hall is sending to his critics following the Jayhawks' last-minute, 18-15 loss at Washington last weekend in a game that saw Washington's Shai McKenzie score a touchdown off a blocked punt by Daron Whitaker with 30.6 seconds left to erase a three-point deficit.
“I really believe these guys are going to bounce back,” said Hall, who accepted the blame for the loss almost immediately after the outcome last Friday night. “One thing I don't have to worry about is getting these guys up to play. We're pretty tough at home.”
No. 7 Mt. Pleasant (5-0, 5-0) and No. 4 Jeannette (4-1, 4-1) will square off for the fifth consecutive season in a rapidly developing and hotly contested rivalry in the WPIAL Class AA Interstate Conference.
Jeannette holds a 3-1 edge in the latest string of games between the teams. The Jayhawks won last year's meeting at Mt. Pleasant, 40-15.
“We understand the ramifications. The stakes are higher,” Mt. Pleasant coach Bo Ruffner said.
Mt. Pleasant hopes to continue to build a special season after its 48-6 rout of Yough, and Ruffner said the Vikings will approach the Jeannette game like any other.
“We really focus on week-to-week,” he said. “It's all about our next opponent. We practice the same way every week. We take the mindset that it doesn't really matter who our opponent is.”
But Ruffner knows the opponent well. Big plays can't happen against the Mt. Pleasant defense, he said. Big plays sometimes define the Jeannette program, though.
Like the big play Jayhawks safety Seth Miller turned in against Washington last week, returning a first-quarter interception 64 yards for a touchdown.
Hall said he has reason to be concerned about Mt. Pleasant's size. The Vikings hold a distinct advantage on the offensive and defensive lines.
“They've got nice size on the line,” he said. “They've got a tackle that is 280 pounds and a guard that's 266. The quarterback (Ryan Gumbita) is big (6-4, 205). And (running back Tyler Mellors) is fast. Bo Ruffner is a great coach. They're probably one of the best-coached teams in the WPIAL.”
Mellors, a 5-7, 170-pound junior rushed for three touchdowns and 141 yards against Yough. Included were a pair of 50-yard scoring runs.
“These kids have been together now since I've been here — for four years since the ninth grade,” Ruffner said. “Having that continuity together is really paying off. We have kids that are very coachable, and we've got some talent. When you've got all that, good things can happen.”
Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-380-5617.