To improve upon last year’s 4-6 record, the Mount Gilead football team will need to replace a talented class of graduated players.
The team graduated 10 players, five of whom received post-season accolades. Both Michael Mollohan and Deondre Cook were first-team All-Ohioans, with Cook also named the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference’s Player of the Year. Alex Ferguson was a two-time MOAC first-teamer, while Zack Foster was also named to the first team and Jacob Robinson made the second team. Also gone are Sawyer Shipman, Connor Philpot, Andrew McFarland, Frankie Poppell and Tyler Beers.
However, the team does return a number of key contributors. Senior Jonah Barnett ran for 1160 yards last year and was an All-Ohio special mention pick, as well as a first-team MOAC selection. Another senior, first-team MOAC receiver Tyler Bland (39 receptions), will move to quarterback to lead the offense. Both will also play in the backfield on defense.
Two more seniors, Danny Williamson and Anthony Clark, both have previously received honorable mention recognition in the league. Also back are senior Jasper Miller; juniors Timmy Brower, Keegan McAvoy, Seth Young, Hunter Trimmer and Tyler Cooper and sophomore Mason Mollohan.
“Like anyone, we need to stay healthy,” said head coach Jason Ross. “We have a number of players returning that played significant time and we are working to build on their experience, including 10 players with extensive playing time on an offense that averaged 365 yards per game. We must shore up our defense by being more aggressive and tackling better. Replacing our graduates, especially Cole, Mollohan and Ferguson, will be no small task.”
The coach noted that picking things up on defense will be a major focus of the team this year.
“We have been emphasizing going the extra mile in everything we do,” he said. “We must be much more consistent, especially on defense. There’s a reason that, “Get a little bit better every day,” is a well-worn cliche.”
In the conference, Ross cited Highland and Fredericktown as favorites due to their traditions of success and returning experience, but also mentioned Centerburg and Cardington as contenders. He has optimism about his team’s chances…as long as his players can avoid injury.
“We had a great offseason in our strength and conditioning program and many of our players had success in other sports,” he said. “We have a very strong senior class, both in terms of talent and leadership abilities. Our numbers are slightly down, so depth could be an issue if the injury bug bites. We have a great group of knowledgable and committed assistant coaches.”