‘Nice nucleus’ poised to keep Mt. Pleasant in playoff hunt

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Monday, August 16, 2021 | 6:01 AM


Graduation takes impact players from every high school football program, and Mt. Pleasant is no different.

The 2020 Vikings started well but didn’t finish strong with three consecutive losses, including a 35-14 setback against North Catholic in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs. They also lost to Elizabeth Forward, 16-14, and South Park, 30-19.

But Mt. Pleasant coach Jason Fazekas isn’t worried about who graduated. His focus is on the players who return, headlined by center Ryan Eutsey and guards William Eicher and Hunter Sean.

“You graduate kids every year,” Fazekas said. “But we return a nice nucleus, and we have a chance to be a solid unit.”

The Vikings must replace quarterback Asher O’Connor, end Jonas King, running back Peter Billey, running back Donovan Bair, running back Jared Yester, tackle John Majercak and tackle Ian Fasano.

Returning are senior running back Aaron Alakson and junior Robbie Labuda. Junior Tyler Reese, who played wide receiver, will move to quarterback. He’ll be challenged by freshman Cole Chatfield, who excited his coach with his strong arm.

“Quarterback is the most important position on the field,” Fazekas said. “We’re looking for someone who is a leader and can execute the RPO (run-pass option).”

Alakson led the Vikings by rushing for 630 yards and four touchdowns. Labuda rushed for 367 yards — 167 yards and two scores in the playoff loss to North Catholic.

A couple of players Fazekas expects big things from are senior wide receiver Brant Garn and senior tight ends Max Moore and Ian Hutter.

The Vikings finished tied for second in the WPIAL Class 3A Interstate Conference. They were 4-1 and 4-0 in the conference to start the season. A couple of bad breaks cost them against Elizabeth Forward.

The defense returns Alakson at linebacker, Reese at defensive back, Labuda at free safety, senior strong safety Connor Johnson and the Hutter brothers, Ian and Jackson, at linebacker. Ian Hutter is an outside linebacker.

They’ll need to play well if the Vikings want to challenge for the conference title.

“We lost some impact players that will be hard to replace,” Fazekas said. “But I like our offensive and defensive lines. I like their athleticism and their effort. A coach should never coach effort.”

Mt. Pleasant has four weeks to work things out. It plays Burrell in Week Zero followed by Derry, Greensburg Salem and Latrobe.

“I give the WPIAL credit for how they scheduled teams,” Fazekas said. “There are a lot of good teams in the conference. Elizabeth Forward and South Park are very good, and South Allegheny is very athletic.”

Fazekas expects Southmoreland and Yough to be much improved.

Mt. Pleasant

Coach: Jason Fazekas

2020 record: 4-4, 4-2 in Class 3A Interstate Conference

All-time record: 334-272-9

SCHEDULE

Date, Opponent, Time

9.3 at Derry, 7

9.10 Greensburg Salem, 7

9.17 at Latrobe, 7

9.24 Southmoreland*, 7

10.1 at Yough*, 7

10.8 Brownsville*, 7

10.15 at Elizabeth-Forward*, 7

10.22 South Park*, 7

10.29 at South Allegheny*, 7

*Conference game

STATISTICAL LEADERS

Passing: Asher O’Connor*

35-78, 614 yards, 5 TDs

Receiving: Donovan Bair*

9-239, 4 TDs

Rushing: Aaron Alakson

94-630, 4 TDs

*Graduated

FAST FACTS

• Mt. Pleasant has qualified for the WPIAL playoffs 10 out of the past 12 years. They missed the playoffs in 2017 and 2018. The last playoff win was in 2014 against Shady Side Academy (38-0).

• In the Vikings’ glory years in the early 80s, they reached the WPIAL Class AAA finals three times and won twice. They defeated Aliquippa, 16-14, in 1983, lost to Aliquippa, 20-15, in 1984 and defeated Kiski Area, 14-13, in 1986.

• Mt. Pleasant is a merger of Mt. Pleasant Hurst and Mt. Pleasant Ramsay in 1961. Hurst was a three-time WPIAL champion, tying Dormont, 14-14, in the 1942 Class A game and defeating Wilmerding, 7-0, in the 1938 Class A game. Ramsay won one title, defeating East Pittsburgh, 20-6, in the 1933 Class B title game. Hurst was awarded the Class B title in 1931.

• Mt. Pleasant has won or shared nine conference titles and it has appeared in the WPIAL playoffs 27 times. Its playoff record is 16-25 and it has had six undefeated regular seasons.

ROSTER

No., Name, Pos., Ht./Wt., Cl.

1, Cole Chatfield, QB/DB, 6-0/155, Fr.

2, Lane Golkosky, RB/DB, 5-7/135, Jr.

3, Regis Sofranko, QB/DB, 6-0/170, Sr.

4, Conor Johnson, RB/DB, 5-10/165, Sr.

5, Tyler Reese, QB/DB, 6-2/180, Jr.

7, Jobe Radomsky, WR/DB, 5-11/155, Sr.

8, Aiden Shimmell, WR/DB, 6-0/150, So.

9, Brady Poole, RB/DB, 5-8/150, So.

10, Ethan Eicher, TE/LB, 5-10/185, Jr.

11, Duncan Blose, RB/CB, 5-9/140, So.

12, Jackson Hutter, RB/LB, 6-0/180, So.

15, Jonathon Eicher, RB/DB, 5-8/155, So.

16, Jake Levendusky, RB/DB, 5-11/155, Sr.

17, Dante Giallonardo, RB/DB, 6-1/185, So.

18, Robbie Labuda, RB/DB, 6-2/175, Jr.

19, Jonathon Mentzer, WR/DB, 5-8/140, Fr.

20, Maximus Moore, TE/LB, 6-0/210, Sr.

21, Jaret Brown, RB/DB, 5-11/170, Sr.

22, William Shipley, WR/DB, 5-7/120, Jr.

23, Sean Cain, WR/DB, 5-6/135, Jr.

24, Lucas Eicher, RB/LB, 5-9/150 , Sr.

25, Garrett Eicher, RB/DB, 5-10/145, Fr.

26, Casey Shaffer, RB/DB, 5-11/205, Jr.

30, Ethan Benteler, WR/LB, 5-11/145, So.

32, Aaron Alakson, RB/LB, 6-2/205, Sr.

42, Ian Hutter, RB/LB, 6-1/200, Sr.

44, Camden Moore, TE/LB, 5-10/160, So.

45, Devin Kuhns, TE/LB, 5-11/185, So.

46, Kolton Turek, RB/LB, 5-7/130, Fr.

50, Jack Kramer, OL/DL, 5-10/215, Sr.

51, Elijah Martin, OL/DL, 5-9/180, Fr.

53, Ryan Eutsey, OL/DL, 5-10/230, Sr.

55, Joseph Laychak, OL/DL, 5-10/225, Fr.

61, Douglas Hamm, OL/DL, 5-7/220, So.

62, Austin Phillippi, OL/DL, 5-9/190, So.

63, Jacob Proctor-Kraus, OL/DL, 6-0/245, Jr.

65, Colton Ament, OL/DL, 6-3/320, Fr.

66, William Eicher, OL/DL, 5-11/230, Jr.

67, Tucker Miller, OL/DL, 5-6/180, So.

68, Arron Helman, OL/DL, 6-0/300, Jr.

69, Marcus Kocevar, OL/DL, 5-11/290, Fr.

70, Jacob Baker, OL/DL, 5-9/200, Jr.

71, Hunter Dean, OL/DL, 5-10/230, Sr.

72, Micah Roadman, OL/DL, 6-1/225, So.

73, Jack Knopsider, OL/DL, 5-10/295, Fr.

77, Kolby Hudec, OL/DL, 5-11/225, So.

79, Donovan Kalemba, OL/DL, 6-1/190, So.

81, Beau Fontanazza, WR/DB, 5-7/135, So.

83, Logan Parson, TE/LB, 5-11/175, Fr.

87, Jarrett Garn, WR/DB, 6-2/160, Fr.

88, Demetrio Sherbondy, WR/DB, 6-0/165, Sr.

89, Brant Garn, WR/DB, 6-0/185, Sr.

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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