Mohigans Reload

Those involved with Morgantown High School football like to tell you that they reload instead of rebuild. That sentiment is hard to argue with since the Mohigans have won four state titles since 2000, but coach John Bowers has his work cut out for him this year reloading a team that lost more than 2,000 yards rushing along with its leading receiver and several defensive starters.

With the graduation of Joey Musick and Chris Glover, Bowers will turn to juniors Conner Leone and Alex Weidman along with a host of other running backs to pick up their production.

“We think we have a stable of backs that a lot of people don’t know about and they’re going to get to know pretty quick,” said Bowers. “Conner Leone shared a very crowded backfield last year with Glover and Musick and he didn’t do too bad. He averaged 13 yards per carry; certainly his average will probably go down, but his yardage will go up. He’s very talented young man. He’s a draft out of high school baseball kid, plays Legion baseball in the evenings.”

Leone was the third leading rusher for the Mohigans last year and should pick up a lot more carries this year. He’s smaller than Musick and Glover, but what he lacks in size, he more than makes up for with his speed.

Bowers says Weidman also could have started last year at running back, but was also caught up in a numbers game.

It should be a very fast backfield for the Mohigans this season. In addition to Leone and Weidman, they add in Tim Prince, a transfer from Carmichaels, Pa., who Bowers says, “is fast as lightning.”

Prince is one of two transfers on this year’s Morgantown team. They also welcome in Kevin Minehart from Parkersburg High who will play wide receiver and safety.

“He’s really going to turn the area on with his speed,” said Bowers. “We haven’t had a guy run as fast as him since Miguel Lockett–he’s pretty fast.”

To make room for all these running backs on the field Morgantown is going back to the Wing-T offense which was so successful for the Mohigans over the past 20 years. Last season Bowers employed a more single-wing type offense with direct snaps to Musick and Glover.

“Last year we got out of the Wing-T a little bit for Joey Musick and Chris Glover, they never really excelled in the Wing-T,” said Bowers who felt they were both better downhill, straight ahead runners. “We felt as coaches you have to adjust to the personnel that you have, but now we’re back to more of a Wing-T team. Conner Leone, Alex Weidman, Chazz Thomas, Shane Commodore and Vince Lafata…those are very, very good halfbacks that can run the ball out of the wing T set. These guys are picking things up nicely.”

While Morgantown is stocked at running back, the search is on for yet another quarterback. When the season begins on August 25th Morgantown will have its third different signal caller under center in as many years. With the graduation of Alex Watson and the decision by Nathan Adrian to forego football this season to “chase the basketball dream,” as Bowers put it, the Mohigans are again searching for a quarterback.

“We have a couple very good candidates at quarterback,” said Bowers. “We’ve got Will Rockus (So.), Blaine Stewart and Mark Johnson (Jrs.)–They’re all big strong kids, they’re all 6-1 or better. They’re all very good candidates. We think we could play a game and win with all three at quarterback.”

On defense, Morgantown loses Jared Adrian who consistently harassed quarterbacks and Anthony Gutta who led the team in tackles, but returns several playmakers like Sammy Lusk and Christian Allen.

Allen will move to defensive end to replace Adrian while Evan Hamilton will move from nose guard to linebacker to replace Gutta. He’ll be joined by Vince Lafata who saw a good deal of playing time behind all-state selection David Stanton. 

Last year’s Mohigan defense was among the best in the state and Bowers feels this year’s edition has the potential to be every bit as dominating. They’ll need to be good because Morgantown’s schedule became a whole lot tougher this off-season. It includes an opener against Ohio powerhouse Steubenville, road games at Parkersburg South, Martinsburg and Brooke, not to mention the annual MoHawk Bowl against cross-town rival University.

The schedule shake up came after all three schools in Marion County and Elkins dropped the Mohigans from their schedules.

“They just don’t feel like they can compete,” said Bowers of the Marion County schools. “I know East Fairmont beat us a couple years ago, but really the only team that can play with us year in and year out is West Fairmont and they’ve only beaten us once in the last, I don’t know, 20 years. Realistically, player-for-player, programatically they’re the only team that can really compete with us out of that bunch. I understand that, it hurts us a little bit with travel but I understand the reasons behind them doing it.”

So Bowers and the rest of the Mohigans are moving ahead, looking forward to more competitive contests.

“That’s who we should play,” said Bowers about the likes of Martinsburg and Parkersburg South being added to the schedule. “I’m a firm believer that our schedule should look like the Parkersburg Highs of the world, Martinsburg, Steubenville, Brooke, Wheeling Park. That’s who we should play. I have no problem playing with those types of teams. We may not run rough-shod over teams, but it will make us a better football team. We’ll be better for it, we’ll be battle tested. We’re relishing the opportunity to be that team–to be the team that will play anybody, anywhere, anytime. So, if big schools have open games call us we’ll play them.”

Morgantown High School Schedule



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