Fundamentals the cornerstone for Mt. Pleasant football program
In a constantly changing sport, several things remain cornerstones of success for Mt. Pleasant.
“The things that never change for us to be successful is we have to run the ball, play good defense and not turn the ball over,” Mt. Pleasant fifth-year coach Bo Ruffner said.
The Vikings appear in position to reach their goals in 2012, which could lead to plenty of victories in the tough Class AA Interstate Conference.
Leading the way is junior quarterback Ryan Gumbita, who started as a sophomore and helped lead the Vikings to a 6-4 record, a third-place finish in the Interstate and a trip to the WPIAL playoffs.
“He started a full season for us, and you can't simulate Friday nights in practices,” Ruffner said. “He'll be a big part of what we do.”
Gumbita is anticipating a stronger season in 2012.
“(Last season) really helped me,” Gumbita said. “I feel more confident and more experienced.”
Gumbita will be joined on offense by a stable of running backs, including senior Taylor Allison and junior Tyler Mellors. Both rushed for nearly 500 yards last season, and Mellors missed a significant portion of the season due to injury. Seniors Joey Paul and Tim Hostettler return as receiving threats.
“We have the ability not only to run the ball, but to throw it,” Ruffner said.
Ruffner is pleased with his defense.
“Right now, we have a good front eight,” Ruffner said. “Our linebackers could be our best group since I've been here, and it's the same thing with our down linemen.”
Seniors Eli Holt, Dalton Bull and Allison, along with juniors Eric Klejka and Luke Liprando, headline an experienced defensive front.
The Vikings will be battling for a playoff spot in the Interstate Conference along with usual top competitors Jeannette and Greensburg Central Catholic. Washington — the same team that beat Mt. Pleasant in the first round of the playoffs last season — has joined the conference.