Mt. Pleasant's Mellors won't surprise opponents this season

| Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013, 8:55 p.m.

Mt. Pleasant doesn't intend to surprise a lot of teams this season.

Running back Tyler Mellors has taken the guesswork out of the offense. A year ago as a junior, Mellors ran for 1,490 yards and scored 25 touchdowns. He ranked among WPIAL leaders in both categories, and the Vikings will be counting on Mellors again in hopes of making a return to the postseason.

“Tyler is one of the shiftiest and explosive backs I've been around,” Mt. Pleasant coach Bo Ruffner said. “He has the ability to make people miss and he has the ability to find holes. Tyler is strong, quick and agile, and he knows how to get yards.”

Seniors Ryan Ballew and Brett Fess will comprise the remainder of the Vikings' backfield.

Ballew and Fess will line up at halfback, with Mellors seeing the bulk of the action at fullback.

“They've all played together since their freshman year and they understand our scheme and system,” Ruffner said. “We're looking for big things from all three and have very high expectations.”

Center Dante Porter, left tackle Eric Klejka and tight end Marcus Malara, all seniors, will try to open holes for Mellors.

“Your running backs are only as good as your front line,” Ruffner said. “We have a couple kids back and we have to fill some holes, but we have some capable kids to turn to. Our offensive line coach, Jason Fazekas, does a great job in camp and lets the kids compete for the positions.”

Senior Ryan Gumbita returns at quarterback. Last season, he completed 44 of 86 pass attempts for 787 yards and seven touchdowns.

Ruffner said Gumbita's experience is like having a coach on the field.

“He's been around since the seventh grade, and he's been in our system and understands the concepts we're striving for,” Ruffner said.

“He has the ability at this point to almost run the offense himself, and that's definitely an advantage.”

Defensively, Mt. Pleasant returns four starters, all seniors.

Anchoring the unit will be defensive tackles Jeff Leonard and Klejka, inside linebacker Luke Liprando and safety Ballew.

Last season, Mt. Pleasant went 6-2 in the Interstate Conference and finished in third place. The Vikings won a first-round playoff game over Burrell before losing in the WPIAL quarterfinals to eventual Class AA champion Aliquippa.

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