Mt. Pleasant out to overcome graduation losses, make playoff encore

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Sunday, September 6, 2020 | 11:15 PM


Mt. Pleasant returned to the WPIAL playoffs for the first time since 2016 last year and the 26th time in school history.

While the Vikings dropped a 42-6 decision to eventual WPIAL Class 3A champion Central Valley, the goal of making the playoffs was achieved.

The Vikings won three of their final four games to clinch a playoff spot, including big wins against Burrell, Freeport and Uniontown.

The offseason has been unusual for all the teams in the state. Teams are preparing differently and taking precautions during the coronavirus pandemic.

Players will be required to wear masks on the sidelines, among other measures.

“We’ll do whatever we can to play the season,” Mt. Pleasant coach Jason Fazekas said.

As for the season, the Vikings must replace 15 seniors from last year.

“We lost some good players,” Fazekas said. “What we’re going to do is do it from a team approach. We have some kids ready to step up. It’s hard to replace a kid like Jake Johnson, but we can do that by moving some kids around as a collective group.”

Johnson, who was a standout wide receiver as a junior, switched to running back last year and rushed for 1,102 yards. He scored 18 touchdowns and led the team with 21 catches for 414 yards.

“I feel we have a good plan” Fazekas said.

The Vikings return starting quarterback Asher O’Connor, who completed 37 of 103 passes for 719 yards and seven touchdowns.

He did throw nine interceptions, but his experience is vital to the Vikings’ success.

“I feel he’ll do a good job managing the offense,” Fazekas said. “Knowing how to work the offense, he’ll be better with his reads and things we ask him to do. He’ll help us running the football.”

Pete Billey returns at running back. He has been banged up the past couple of seasons, and Fazekas is hoping for an injury-free year.

“He’s coming in 100 percent healthy,” Fazekas said. “We’re expecting him to have a great year.”

Mt. Pleasant returns six starters on offense. Wide receiver Jonas King, a senior, will be counted on to have a big year. He caught 12 passes for 190 yards in 2019.

On defense, nose tackle Ian Fasano is back. Former Derry coach Tim Sweeney felt he was the best and toughest lineman in the conference.

John Majercak is another lineman Fazekas feels will have a big season.

King, Ian Hutter and Aaron Alakson will play key roles on defense. King is a hard-hitting linebacker.

Elizabeth Forward is expected to be the favorite in the conference that includes South Park, Yough, Southmoreland, Brownsville and South Allegheny.

Fazekas said his team will be in the mix for another run at the playoffs.

Schedule

Coach: Jason Fazekas

2019 record: 5-6, 4-4 in Class 3A Big East Conference

All-time record: 330-268-9

Date, Opponent, Time

9.11, South Allegheny*, 7

9.18, Latrobe, 7

9.25, at Southmoreland*, 7

10.2, Yough*, 7

10.9, at Brownsville*, 7

10.16, Elizabeth Forward*, 7

10.23, at South Park*, 7

*Class 3A Interstate Conference game

Statistical leaders

Passing: Asher O’Connor

37-103, 719 yards, 7 TDs

Rushing: Jake Johnson*

122-1,102 yards, 18 TDs

Receiving: Jake Johnson*

21-414

Fast facts

• Mt. Pleasant is the merger of Hurst and Ramsay High Schools. That merger came in 1961.

• The Vikings won WPIAL Class AA titles in 1983 and 1986. Bill Elder coached the team. The Vikings defeated Aliquippa, 16-14, in 1983 and Kiski Area, 14-13, in 1986. They lost to Aliquippa, 20-15, on a controversial call in 1984.

• Mt. Pleasant has won nine conference titles. The latest was the Interstate Conference in 2013.

• The Vikings’ first WPIAL playoff game was in 1981. They defeated Thomas Jefferson, 28-6.

• Before the merger, Hurst won three WPIAL titles and Ramsay one. Hurst was the township school.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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