By ROB HAMILTON
After 2014’s 3-7 campaign, Mount Gilead football coach Jason Ross is hoping for improvement behind a large number of returnees.
“We want to build on the fact that we played a large number of younger players last year, most of whom return,” he said. “Our goal is always to get a little better every day.”
In order to improve, the team will have to replace a few graduates, as while last year’s senior class wasn’t particularly large, some of its members did make big contributions. Joseph Elson (1195 rushing yards, 15 touchdowns, 46 defensive tackles) and Cody Mitchell (74 tackles, four receiving touchdowns) both were named second-team players in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference, while Ben Bryson, Jalynn Cahill and Dylan Conant also made contributions.
However, the Indians also return a number of important players. Seniors Michael Mollohan (OT/DT), Deondre Cook (QB/DB) and Alex Ferguson (LB/TE) all were first-team MOAC picks, with Mollohan also being named special mention All-Ohio. Junior Danny Williamson (C/DT) was an honorable mention pick in the league.
Seniors Jacob Robinson (OL/DE), Connor Philpot (OL/DE) and Zack Foster (FB/LB); and juniors Jonah Barnett (LB/RB), Anthony Clark (DT/FB), Austin Vanderkooi (WR/DB) and Hunter Creech (LB/FB) are also considered key returnees by Ross.
“We had a good offseason in our strength and conditioning program and many of our players had success in other sports,” said Ross. “Our seniors are proving to be very good leaders and our junior class is very mature. Our coaching staff is also much more experienced this year. We must overcome our lack of recent success.”
In order to do that, the coach feels his team will need to both stay healthy and find a way to overcome the loss of Elson’s offensive contributions.
“Like anyone, we need to stay healthy,” he said. “We have a number of players returning that played significant time and we are looking to build on their experience. We have to play faster on defense and find a way to modify our offense to replace Elson, who rushed for nearly 1200 yards.”
In the league, Ross looks at Fredericktown, Centerburg and Highland as teams to beat, noting that they’ve established themselves as the class of the Blue Division in recent years.
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS
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