Mounties might be small, but positive and focused
This year there will be no sharing time at quarterback for Philipsburg-Osceola’s Ryan Whitehead. The job is his. And it’s a big job as the Mounties try to bounce back from a 1-9 campaign.
Whitehead, a junior, will be the triggerman after backing up three-year starter Bubba Slogosky a year ago.
Whitehead, a standout three-sport athlete who stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 175, completed 20 of 54 attempts for four touchdowns, four interceptions and 376 yard a year ago. His brother Jeremy, who is younger by nine months and three weeks and is 6-foot-3, 175 pounds, will be one of his targets after catching six passes for 76 yards last fall. Like Ryan, he’s a three-sport athlete.
“Losing Bubba is tough,’’ admitted head coach Brian McGonigal. “But Ryan is a great athlete who works hard and wants to learn.’’
There will be a lot of learning going on for the Mounties, who lost 16 seniors to graduation. But with a turnout of 38 players, there are lots of students for McGonigal and his staff to work with.
“We have a really good group of kids,’’ he said. “We’re focusing on the positive. They’re excited for the season. We’re young —we only have six or seven seniors — so we’re going to rely on the sophomores and juniors. In my three years, this is the most excited group I’ve had to work with. They are ready to get after it.’’
McGonigal, who had the interim tag removed from his position over the winter, said lot of the off-season was spent reviewing what went right or wrong in last year.
“We reflected on what we did,’’ he said. “We decided what we need to change and what we did well. We’re going to change some things in our approach,. But since this is my third year (he was an assistant to Mike Mann in 2017), the seniors are all used to me now. ‘’
Two key seniors are receivers Chase Chapman and Aaron Depto. Depto had 13 catches for 262 yards and four touchdowns last fall while Chapman had 12 receptions good for 123 yards.
Junior running back Kaleb Stamm will lead the running game after gaining 120 yards and scoring three touchdowns last year.
Protecting Whitehead and opening holes for Stamm will be up to an offensive line that’s led by Tyler Anderson, a three-year starter who is listed at 5-foot-six, 237 pounds.
“We might be undersized but they’re very strong kids,’’ McGonigal said. “We don’t have those 6-foot-2, 230-pound kids. We’re more like 5-10, 200 pounds. But on both sides of the ball they’re very fast and have a lot of skills.’’
Leading the defense will be Hunter Weitoish, who had three interceptions a year ago. Anderson will be flanked up front by Parker Moore and Josh Lesko. Moore is listed at 5-foot-6, 190 pounds, and Lesko is measured at 5-foot-11, 180 pounds. Chapman will line up in the secondary with Weitoish.
One plus for the Mounties is the return of placekicker Aarn Parks,who converted 14 PATs last fall.
P-O will open the season on the road against arch-rival West Branch before traveling to BEA. New on the schedule this year is North Penn-Mansfield which visits P-O on Oct.4.
“West Branch is a fun game,’’ McGonigal said. “All of the coaches know each other, the kids know each other. We’re looking forward to it.’’