For the last four seasons, the Mount Pleasant football team has faced an uphill battle as it competed with, essentially, a 2A enrollment against what is one of the perennial power 3A conferences in the state: the South Piedmont conference.Theyve competed against the likes of A.L. Brown, Concord and Hickory Ridge.Now, though, the school returns to the Rocky River 2A Conference. They will face Monroe, Forest Hills, Parkwood, Central Academy and West Stanly.While their nonconference slate still includes SPC teams Central Cabarrus, Concord, Cox Mill, and Northwest Cabarrus and Jay M. Robinson, a former SPC team realignment has breathed new life into coach Michael Johns and the Tigers.Theres definitely a lot of positive energy in the program, and we had a great offseason in the weight room with great participation, Johns said.The team will have 15 returning starters.Its kind of like starting over, but with a lot of experienced players, Johns said. We are eager to get going and see what we can do.The Tigers offense will have a new look as Johns takes over the play-calling.Johns has junior tailback, Denzal Gilmore, to lead the way. He rushed for 769 yards and eight touchdowns as a sophomore. Gilmore also was one of the top sprinters in the SPC in the spring track season.We think Denzal can be a special player for us this year, Johns said. So we want to get him the ball as much as possible.Senior quarterback Michael Bingham also is back to run the offense; Bingham totaled 1,045 yards of total offense last year. Junior quarterback Austin Parker, who also started several games last year, will play too, according to Johns. Parker is the teams kicker and punter as well.I like to be in a position to be playmaker, where I can run and/or pass, Bingham said. Having Denzal takes a lot of pressure off of us and is going to give some opportunities to run and go deep.Both quarterbacks will benefit from the return of senior wideouts Austin Radford (24 catches, 3 touchdowns last year) and Tristan Coggins.And Johns is excited about three tight ends who are moving up from junior varsity: Tucker Furr, Ty Pruitt and Jaque Robinson. They should be key blockers and receivers.Senior Cole Furr will be a big factor, too, on the offense either at fullback, tight end or both.Johns says his team usually goes as his offense line goes. Four of five starters are back: Chris Aistrop, Marshall Gardner, Zach Mayo and Anthony Stewart. John Wax also got a lot of playing time.The defense has eight starters back including six juniors who started as sophomores.In fact, Johns said, at one point in the season finale against Central Cabarrus, he had nine freshmen or sophomores playing on his defense.But that experience should pay off, beginning on the front four, where every starter is back. That group includes juniors McCoy Black, Isaiah Cox, Austin Moore and Cole Furr.The Tiger secondary has three starters back in Robert Johns, the coachs son, Colton Redmond and E.J. White.Johns and the Tigers were disappointed with their 2012 season. They lost seven of their final eight games after getting hit hard with injuries and finished last in the conference.But now back in 2A, they are energized by renewing rivalries with familiar foes.We feel like we have a great opportunity this year to prove ourselves, Bingham said. We believe we can not only compete for the conference (title), but also make a run in the playoffs. Were all excited to get started.
Monday, Jul. 15, 2013
Mount Pleasant football anxious to start 2A season
The team will have 15 returning starters as it returns to the Rocky River 2A Conference for 2013
Mount Pleasant Coach: Michael Johns (15th Year, 81-91 at Mount Pleasant). 2012 record: 3-8, 0-7 SPC. Starters Returning: 15 (7 offense, 8 defense). Key players: • RB Denzal Gilmore, 5-foot-11, 185, Jr.: The Tigers’ tailback has the size, talent (769 yards rushing, 8 TDs last year) and speed (4.5, 40-yard dash) to have a big year. • LB Tyler Rawson, 6-foot-1, 175, Jr.: Tigers’ top returning tackler (91 tackles) must make even more plays with LB’s Ryan Johns and Tommy McCrimmon graduated. Can’t miss games: Central Cabarrus, Aug. 23; Forest Hills, Oct. 11; at Monroe, Oct. 18.