New Mohawk starters carry torch into new season
Monday, August 19, 2019 | 9:22 PM
Mohawk’s 2018 season was one of the best in program history.
The Warriors were co-champions of the Class 2A Midwestern Conference and won a home playoff game before falling in the quarterfinals to Charleroi. The conference championship and playoff victory were the first for the squad from Bessemer since 2005.
Looking to sustain that momentum may be difficult for the Warriors, however, after graduating 11 seniors who all played prominent roles on last year’s squad. Coach Tim McCutcheon said the team’s goals have not changed, even though many of the faces on the field have.
“That’s certainly our goal,” the fifth year coach said of returning to the playoffs. “Losing 11 seniors, these guys were handed a torch by those 11 seniors and they’ve grown up playing football with them their whole life. They plan on carrying that torch and getting into the playoffs, trust me.”
McCutcheon faced a difficult challenge when taking over a Mohawk program that had not had a winning season since 2006. His Warriors went 1-17 over his first two seasons, but have rebounded in a big way, going 14-7 over the past two years.
Now the challenge is to keep up the fire burning around the program.
If the offseason is any indication, there is more to come from the Warriors this year.
“Our attendance since December has been through the roof, probably the best ever,” McCutcheon said. “It was not uncommon to have 30 guys in the weight room. That’s where it starts, no matter what your numbers are, no matter how young you are. I think that’s where we gain our first advantage.
“It’s been a great offseason. We’ve have some young kids grow up quick, and we’re going to need some young kids to grow up quicker.”
Among the graduates were all-conference selections at quarterback, running back, wide receiver and on the offensive and defensive lines.
With so many new bodies in the skill positions, McCutcheon knows that offensive line play will be pivotal.
“We have three returning starters up front, two other guys who got significant reps last year, so we like where our line is right now,” he said. “That’s a good place to start.”
All-conference selection Nick Beam is one of those returning starters, along with fellow seniors Josh Kurtz and Bryan King. Sophomore Charlie Shillenburg and junior Ethan McAnlis will join in the trenches. Hunter Faulk, an all-conference linebacker last year, will see time at tight end.
Junior Vincent Argiro is slated to take over the duties left by workhorse running back Braydon Cameron, who averaged 26 touches per game over the last two years. Fellow junior Jordan Mollenkopf, who caught three touchdown passes and returned two kicks for scores, will also see and expanded role in the offense. Sophomores Mark Conti and Bodan Leslie are battling for the quarterback spot.
When the season begins, even though there will be some new names for the fans to learn, McCutcheon knows exactly what the Bessemer faithful will get to see.
“I think when (the fans) come watch them, they’re going to find a very aggressive, tenacious group of football players. It will be absolutely fun to watch,” he said. “I think that we’re going to be in most games and have a chance to win most games; we just have to see if they’re able to pull them out at the end.”
Another brutal season in the MAC awaits the Warriors. After a Week Zero trip to county rival Laurel, Mohawk hosts New Brighton to start the conference season.
“The conference is awesome for spectators,” McCutcheon said. “For a coach, it (stinks), because it’s just brutal. You have to show up every week and are you going to have to make play down the stretch if you want to win games.
“We have to win Week 1. That’s where we start. We have to keep getting better than we are right now every day.”
Coach: Tim McCutcheon
2018 record: 9-3, 6-1
All-time record: 354-456-40
Date, Opponent, Time
8.23, at Laurel, 7
8.30, New Brighton*, 7
9.6, at Neshannock*, 7
9.14, at Freedom*, 7
9.20, Western Beaver*, 7
9.27, at Shenango*, 7
10.4, Riverside*, 7
10.11, Burgettstown, 7
10.18, at Ellwood City*, 7
10.25, Summit Academy, 7
*Class 2A Midwestern Conference game
Passing: Nick Wheeler*
102-199, 1890 yards, 23 TDs
Rushing: Braydon Cameron*
265-1,676 yards, 15 TDs
Receiving: Nate McCutcheon*
39-861 yards, 10 TDs