MP to challenge Solon in final non-district game
After a week’s worth of practice focused on improving the offensive line, Mt. Pleasant football will take their home field again this week, hoping to give their quarterback more time to throw and their backs more room to run.
“The kids are responding well and understanding what the expectations are for them,” Mt. Pleasant Coach Shawn Striegel said. “We hope to show that Friday night.”
In their final non-district game, the Panthers host Solon, a team that went 8-3 last year and 9-2 in the year before.
“They’re well-coached,” Striegel said. “Coach (Kevin) Miller proves himself year after year. The kids are fast; there’s a lot of athleticism on the team.”
Solon is 1-1 this season after a 31-8 win at Mt. Vernon in Week 1 and a 38-0 loss to Class 1A top-ranked Iowa City Regina at home last week. Regina accounted for one of the Spartans’ losses in each of the last two seasons as well.
In last week’s game, Regina was able to stop Solon quarterback Jacob Black on the ground — he finished with -7 yards in 14 carries against the Regals — and Mt. Pleasant aims to do the same.
“He (Black) looks fast, and loves to run the ball,” Striegel said. “He throws a decent ball, too, but we have to stop him (on the ground) and make him throw. We’ve got to take him out of his element, and he’s most comfortable running.”
Black is 10-of-22 passing for 181 yards and one touchdown in two games this season. He rushed for 138 yards and two touchdowns against Mt. Vernon.
However, if the Panthers put too much energy into stopping Black, they run the risk of opening up space for Brandon Kramer, who has racked up 241 yards rushing for the Spartans this season.
“That’s what makes them a threat,” Striegel said. “If you focus on one, the other will hurt you; if you try to shut down one, it will open up a route for the other.”
The Panther coach notes that his team will have to play strong defense in the box while keeping their outside linebackers in good position to stop Solon’s outside run game.
As far as the offense goes, the Panthers aim to keep improving and to start taking advantage of what they’re already doing right.
“We did a lot of things correct last week — we had (few) turnovers and penalties, so we didn’t have a lot of those yards against us,” Striegel said. “But because we haven’t been getting anywhere on first and second down, we can’t take advantage of that.
“The biggest thing we have to do is get into a rhythm,” he added. “Momentum is huge in football, and momentum will be a big key to our success.”
Kickoff is scheduled for around 7:30 p.m. on Friday at Mapleleaf Athletic Complex.
Mt. Pleasant starters
Pos.: Name, Ht., Wt., Class
QB: Dustin Amos, 6-3, 180, Senior
FB: Carson Remick, 6-0, 190, Senior
TB: Josh Larson, 5-11, 160, Senior
WR: Cole Phillips, 5-11, 135, Junior
WR: Blake Knudsen, 5-11, 149, Junior
TE: Justin Dilks, 6-3, 220, Senior
C: Jackson Kelley, 6-5, 280, Junior
LG: Colton Moore, 5-10, 250, Senior
RG: Tyler Ruby, 6-2, 215, Junior
LT: Matt Scudder, 6-2, 225, Senior
RT: Justin Nichting, 6-4, 215, Senior
K: Zoom Gwamna, 5-9, 160, Junior
Pos.: Name, Ht., Wt., Class
LT: Ben Canby, 6-1, 220, Junior
NG: Dante Vandenberg, 6-5, 231, Junior
RT: Justin Dilks, 6-3, 220, Senior
LB: Dustin Amos, 6-3, 180, Senior
LB: Noah Brown, 5-11, 177, Senior
LB: Carson Remick, 6-0, 190, Senior
LB: Tyler Ruby, 6-2, 215, Junior
LB: Josh Larson, 5-11, 160, Senior
LC: Spencer White, 6-3, 175, Junior
RC: Tony Cristoforo, 6-0, 164, Junior
FS: Austin Smith, 5-8, 155, Junior
P: Ben Canby, 6-1, 220, Junior