Mohawk looking to take 2 steps forward after 1 step back

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Friday, August 28, 2020 | 11:17 PM


The Mohawk football team has made the climb from the bottom of the standings to playoff contender once in the past few seasons.

Now it’ll just have to do it again.

After winning a total of one game in his first two seasons on the Mohawk sidelines, coach Tim McCutcheon led the Warriors to back-to-back playoff appearances in 2017-18, including a postseason win two years ago.

With inexperienced players in key spots last year, the Warriors slipped back to a 2-8 record.

McCutcheon said the ultimate goal is to eliminate those peaks and valleys, but at the Class 2A level, it’s an extraordinarily difficult task.

“When you look at kids in grades from 12th down to kindergarten, it seems like every other year, you have a nice group of athletes. Very rarely do you have back-to-back years,” McCutcheon said. “It’s tough. Even if you have a really good sophomore group, for example, a good sophomore is nothing to a good senior, not on Friday nights on a football field.”

The underclassmen who learned some hard lessons last season have returned with a few more pounds on their frames. With returning starters all over the lineup, there is cause for optimism in Warriors camp.

Take the backfield for example. The senior trio of Brian Cline, Vincent Argiro and Cory Brown combined for 1,193 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground last season. They’re all back this year.

Brown was a versatile performer, rushing for 300 yards, catching 10 passes on offense and intercepting five passes on defense. Junior Marc Conti also was a two-way starter.

Another potential playmaker, senior Jordan Mollenkopf, is back. After catching three touchdown passes and returning two kicks for scores as a sophomore, he missed most of last season with an injury.

There’s less experience in the trenches, but Ethan McAnlis and Vincent Innocenzi are returning starters and Charlie Schillingburg is an emerging lineman.

McCutcheon expects the development of young players on offense will help out the team’s defense in the long run.

“My defense was on the field three-quarters of the game last year,” he said. “Once our conference found out we couldn’t pass the ball last year, we had a nice Cover Zero with nine in the box every play. It was tough for us to move the ball.”

McCutcheon expects the defense to be fast and hard-hitting, making up for a lack of size. With the proliferation of spread offenses, being smaller on defense isn’t generally a major problem in modern high school football.

In the Midwestern Athletic Conference, however, McCutcheon isn’t so sure.

“If you look at our conference, we have double tight teams. We have Wing-T teams. We have one or two Power-I teams. It’s throwback back here,” he said. “There’s a little bit of spread here, but not much, so you better buckle up both chinstraps tight and be ready to play some old-school football. It’s 1982 here.”

Schedule

Coach: Tim McCutcheon

2019 record: 2-8, 1-6 in Class 2A Midwestern Athletic Conference

All-time record: 356-464-40

Date, Opponent, Time

9.11, at Ellwood City*, 7

9.17, at Neshannock*, 7

9.25, New Brighton*, 7

10.2, at Riverside*, 7

10.9, Beaver Falls*, 7

10.16, at Laurel*, 7

10.23, Freedom*, 7

*Class 2A Midwestern Athletic Conference game

Statistical leaders

Passing: Marc Conti

25-88, 193 yards

Rushing: Brian Cline

111-560 yards, 3TDs

Receiving: Cory Brown

10-107 yards, TD

Fast facts

• How could a team that went 2-8 last year carry momentum into the offseason? If it won its last two games. Mohawk knocked off Ellwood City and Summit Academy in its final two games last season.

• Mohawk rushed for 1,380 yards last season. Only 59 of those yards were gained by seniors.

• While Mohawk has almost all of its skill position players back this season, the Warriors will have to replace first-team all-conference offensive lineman Nick Beam in the trenches. Beam is playing his college ball at Westminster.

• Coach Tim McCutcheon found some irony in the fact that he had 52 players come out for offseason workouts, giving him one of his largest rosters in his six years as Mohawk coach despite workouts being conducted in the middle of a pandemic.

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review Assistant Sports Editor. You can contact Jonathan by email at jbombulie@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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