Throughout the summer, the Mounties football team gathered in coach Mike Mann’s classroom at the middle school to watch film from the 2016 season.
Mann played clips from Philipsburg-Osceola’s nine losses, revealing missed blocks and missed tackles. The fundamentals repeatedly haunted the Mounties last season, and Mann saw his players hanging their heads — a habit the coach is trying to break going into this fall. Mann followed the review of his players’ mistakes with video from their lone win against St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy, hoping his players will carry the feeling from that day into 2017.
“It’s just to keep it in their heads of what happened,” Mann said.
The exercise is also about showing his players what he thinks can happen in his second year at the helm. If the Mounties execute, Mann thinks his team can win more than one game this season. That’s Philipsburg-Osceola’s goal after snapping a 36-game losing streak with the win over St. Joseph’s in the 2016 regular season finale — and it’ll hope to inch closer to that goal Friday night, when it takes on West Branch on the road.
Mann saw his players prove their dedication toward starting the program’s turnaround during the offseason. In the summer each week, there were 20-25 players in the weight room five days and at two-hour practices three days. They installed a new spread offense and reviewed each position’s responsibilities, starting with the blocking scheme.
“I’d say a lot of our team has bought in and is definitely ready to win — just tired of the reputation here in Philipsburg, and we’re ready to change it,” junior quarterback Bubba Slogosky said.
When Mann took over last year, he said 12-15 players showed up to summer workouts. The coach needed to teach basic skills like blocking and tackling. He worked with the offensive linemen on their footwork and reviewed their blocking assignments. And he chose to keep it simple with a Power-I offense from the 1980s.
“They picked up, ‘This is football. This is what we’re supposed to do,’” Mann said.
This season, Mann said his team is ready to run the spread offense featuring run-pass-option plays. The Mounties ran the offense throughout the summer, and Mann noted that Slogosky has a strong grasp of the new scheme. Senior running back Brandon Anderson looks forward to having more opportunities to make big plays.
But Slogosky is quick to point out that the team’s success will hinge on its blocking. Mann has provided reminders to keep his players focused on the fundamentals with last year’s film. In the 34-14 win over St. Joseph’s, the Mounties’ blocking paved the way for touchdowns, including one by running back Matt Johnson during an Anderson touchdown.
“I still remember that a lot,” Johnson said.
Anderson fondly recalls scoring the first touchdown that day on P-O’s new field. Slogosky remembers his late-game touchdown pass and the ensuing celebration with his teammates on the sideline running down the field.
The quarterback said P-O played with a different attitude that day. The Mounties ran around with more energy and didn’t get down on themselves. They didn’t hang their heads like they did throughout the losing streak.
“I’d say in the other games, we defeated ourselves before we even stepped on the field,” Slogosky said.
Slogosky said the Mounties need to maintain their confidence and bounce back from their mistakes. With that attitude and a newfound dedication, Mann said his players know they’re capable of winning more than one game this season. Now, they just have to put it all together on Friday nights.
“They’ve put the time in. Honestly, they’ve worked hard,” Mann said. “They want to win. They want to turn the corner.”
Head coach: Mike Mann (second season)
Last season: 1-9
Assistant coaches: Jeff Johnson, Brian McGonigal, Aaron Mason
Key losses: Levi Hughes, Brad Dunkle
Returning letterwinners: WR/DB — Josh Bryan (5-11, 160, Sr.); RB/DE — Brandon Anderson (6-0, 200, Sr.); WR/LB — Derek Dixon (5-11, 170, Sr.); RB/SS — Matt Johnson (5-9, 160, Sr.); TE/DE — Josh Hubler (6-1, 180, Sr.); WR/CB — Nate Twoey (6-1, 150, Sr.); OL/DL — Brandon Kephart (5-11, 190, Sr.); OL/DL — Kyle Taylor (5-10, 180, Sr.); OL/DL — Jordan Smith (6-1, 230, Sr.); WR/CB — Nick Keith (5-11, 160, Jr.); WR/FS — TJ Thompson (5-11, 165, Jr.); WR/LB — Landon McDonald (6-0, 165, Jr.); QB/FS — Bubba Slogosky (5-11, 160, Jr.); OL/LB — Luke Swortwood (6-1, 210, Jr.); RB/LB — Dylan Yastro (5-9, 175, Jr.); OL/DL — Nick Boyles (5-10, 180, Jr.); OL/DL — Tanner Arnold (6-0, 200, Jr.); OL/DL — Jim Bryan (6-0, 250, Jr.); WR/LB — Keegan Soltis (5-11, 180, So.)
Key newcomers: WR/CB — Micah Martin (5-10, 180, Jr.); TE/LB — Keegen Perks (6-0, 175, Sr.); QB/SS — Matt Shimmel (5-10, 165, Jr.); OL/DL — Tyler Anderson (5-8, 220, So.); OL/DL — Gabe Krause (5-9, 240, So.)