Hal Capps and his Mooresville football team wanted to put last year’s disappointment behind them.So the Monday after their season-ending 27-26 overtime loss to Lake Norman, the Blue Devils, who went 4-7 last fall, started the process of doing just that.“We immediately identified what went wrong last year and went into the offseason with a new vigor,” said Capps, who enters his fourth year as Mooresville’s head coach. “The main thing we talked about is that we are not entitled to anything. After going 12-3 and getting to regional finals in 2011, I think a lot of kids thought we could just show up and win. But we can’t do that. We got rid of all the entitlement and this team has a entirely different attitude.”Capps also returns 16 starters from last year, including eight on each side of the ball, giving him even more reason to feel good about 2013.The Blue Devils’ offense will revolve around senior Justin Jones, whose main position is wide receiver, but will also line up at quarterback, running back, kick returner, punt returner, cornerback and safety throughout the year.Jones has all the physical tools to have a breakout season, as he benches over 300 pounds and runs 4.5, 40-yard dash.Like Capps, Jones was quick to move on after last season.“We have a short memory,” said Jones, who is being recruited by Coastal Carolina. “We have pretty much the same team back and we’re all really hungry to show what we can do.”A lot of the Blue Devils’ success will hinge on the play at quarterback, as junior Thomas Bullock is back after starting the last seven games of the season and “growing up a lot,” according to Capps.Bullock will benefit a lot from Jones’ receiving and running skills, as well as junior tailback Manny Johnson, a 5-foot-11, 208-pound who also emerged as a consistent weapon for Mooresville last season. Classmate Akese Rankin, who was a junior-varsity standout last year, will also see time at running back.The Blue Devil offensive front also looks solid with 6-foot-3, 280-pound left tackle Qua Harris back to anchor the group.The Mooresville defense also looks to improve with a lot of depth and experience back.Senior Ralph Montgomery (6-3, 245) will shift from his outside linebacker spot onto the defensive line, where he looks to help set the tone.Montgomery will try to make room for linebackers like seniors Jake Engles and Greg Rickett to make tackles.The Blue Devil secondary also wants to be opportunistic with Jones, sophomores Caleb Klucking and Demitrius Spury as well as freshman Chris Ingram expected to see the bulk of the playing time. Capps calls Ingram “one of the best freshman he has ever coached.” Capps and Mooresville have a lot of talent back, and move into the North Piedmont 3A/4A conference, where they will be challenged by county rivals South Iredell, Statesville and Lake Norman. In their new league, they have a chance to move up the conference ladder quickly.Early nonconference match-ups with West Rowan and Hough won’t make it easy to get off to a good start, but if they do, the Blue Devils could be a serious contender in the NPC and beyond. “I think our new conference allows us to set higher goals,” Jones said. “There are going to be great rivalries almost every week. That will motivate us even more each week. I think we all feel like we have something to prove.”
Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013
Mooresville Blue Devils move past disappointing 2012
Mooresville Coach: Hall Capps (Fourth season) 2012 record: 4-7. Starters returning: 16. Key players: • WR/DB Justin Jones, 5-9, 165, Sr.: Blue Devils revolve around do-it-all player who will also run the ball, return kicks and could even see time at quarterback. • RB Manny Johnson, 5-11, 208, Jr.: After emerging as Blue Devils’ feature back, he could be key in team’s success. Can’t-miss games: West Rowan, Aug. 23; at Hough, Aug. 30; South Iredell, Nov. 1; Lake Norman, Nov. 8.
Jay Edwards is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Jay? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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