ST. MARYS, W.Va.– Since Jodi Mote took over as the head coach at his alma mater in 2002, the Blue Devils have consistently been known for their toughness and hard-nosed rushing attack. Don’t expect that to change any time soon as St. Marys will heavily rely on senior running backs David Gray and Noah Spitzer.
Gray and Spitzer combined for 1,981 yards on the ground last season as St. Marys rumbled to a 10-2 record in Class A. Gray rushed for 1,057 yards on 169 carries and notched 15 touchdowns during his junior season. Spitzer touched the ball 142 times, scampering for 924 yards and 11 scores.
“We’re optimistic. Everything’s on paper and no ball game is won that way but we’re excited,” says Mote who is entering his 11th season as the Blue Devils head coach.
Mote was a hard-nosed running back that preferred to run over tacklers rather than around them during his playing days as a Blue Devil. That mentality has transferred to his coaching style and his teams have taken on that attitude. Gray and Spitzer provide a one-two punch that is nearly impossible for defenses to stop. However, Mote is expecting more this year, he’s looking for Gray and Spitzer to take on leadership roles this season.
“David is a really quiet leader who leads by example. Noah is more of the vocal kid and all three of those guys we lost last year were all vocal guys,” explains Mote.
He’ll need players such as Spitzer and Gray to step up following the graduation of key weapons Andrew Cosper (QB), Derek Barnhart (FB) and Alan Pratt (OL).
“That’s how high school football is. You lose great players each year and its just time for someone else to step up.”
While Spitzer and Gray will be the center pieces of the offense, Mote has a couple of other weapons in his arsenal. Receiver Colby Brode returns on the outside. The senior is looking to have a larger impact in the offensive scheme after catching five passes and a touchdown in 2012.
He’s also looking for big years from senior offensive linemen Tyler Davis and Noah Shultz who will be expected to lead a group up front that will be counted on to opening running lanes for Gray and Spitzer.
The Blue Devils used a running game last year that averaged 296 yards per game on their way to a 9-1 regular season record. St. Marys average 38.9 points per game while holding opponents to just over 16 points a game and pitched a pair of shutouts.
If Mote and company want to duplicate those results, they’ll have do it against a schedule that includes the likes of perennial playoff contenders Magnolia, Williamstown, and Wirt County, as well as Tyler Consolidated, Ravenswood and Ritchie County.
“Definitely a challenging schedule for us. The Little Kanawha Conference is very challenging,” he said.
St. Marys may not attempt 100 passes this season, in fact it only threw the ball 77 times last year. However, with a deep and experience backfield the Blue Devils are expecting to run to another playoff appearance in 2013.