Mountainside looks to build on its momentum
BEAVERTON — Last year, the Mountainside High School football team, playing at the varsity level for the first time, didn't get off to a great start to the season.
That might even be a little bit of an understatement, as the Mavericks lost their first six games of the 2018 campaign.
But then, something happened. In Week 7, Mountainside scored a 17-13 win in a Metro League game at Aloha. The Mavericks followed that up with a 23-16 league victory at Westview. Mountainside then ended it season with a 17-14 home win over Summit in a non-league contest.
In other words, the Mavericks finished their initial varsity season with a three-game winning streak and, they hope, plenty of momentum and motivation going into the 2019 season.
"That was very important," Mountainside coach John Mannion said of the Mavericks' season-ending three-game winning streak. "It validated all the hard work that the kids put in. They did everything that was asked of them."
Now, as the 2019 season approaches, Mountainside is looking to capitalize on its strong finish.
"We had an excellent offseason, working hard in the weight room and in passing league," Mannion said. "We're still developing, but we're a year stronger and we have a year more of experience. We were really excited to win those last three games. That gave us a lot of momentum going into the offseason."
Still, the Mavericks know that those three wins may not really mean much going into this season.
"We know those games could have gone either way," Mannion said. "The margin of error is tight, so we know that we have to keep getting better."
Junior Justin Hughes returns at quarterback, after starting the final six games of the season last year.
"He did a good job leading us," Mannion said.
Sophomore Brian Mannion, the coach's son, who played at the junior varsity level last year, could also see time at quarterback.
"I'm excited for what both of them can do," John Mannion said.
Junior E.J. Broussard returns to lead a deep group of running backs. He was a second-team all-Metro League pick a year ago.
"He's a natural football player," Mannion said. "And he had a nice offseason."
Junior Tyler Adewumi returns at fullback. He was a third-team all-Metro League selection last year.
Senior Aiden Pacino, who was hurt in the second game of the 2018 season, is also back at fullback.
"He's working hard to improve," Mannion said.
Junior Andrew Simpson will play at halfback and at receiver.
"He's a quick kid and a big-play threat," Mannion said.
Senior returnee Carlos Montero leads the wide receiver group.
"He's an excellent football player," Mannion said, adding that Montero was the team's leading receiver and offensive MVP a year ago. "He's very quick and a good athlete."
Senior Yule Schrock is another key receiver for the Mavericks. Also at receiver, Mountainside has juniors Sammy Cohen, Tyler Dahlback, Parker Groth and Will Zundel.
"They all had good summers," Mannion said.
Senior Jonah Amaya is a returning starter at tight end.
"He's a good blocker and receiver," Mannion said.
Senior Shane Gerber, senior William Wolfe and junior Wilbur Verdine return on the offensive line.
"They gained a ton of experience last year," Mannion said. "And they're older and stronger."
The Mavericks have a new offensive lineman in senior Bobby Pribula. Last year, Pribula started the first three games of the season at quarterback, before suffering a broken wrist. He volunteered to move to the offensive line this year.
"We have some potential with our offense, but we're a work in progress," Mannion said. "We're looking for improvement, and I think that can happen. We have the ingredients for a potent offense that can sustain drives."
The Mavericks look to be strong on the defensive line, where they return senior Nick Calhoun, who was a second-team all-Metro League pick a year ago, senior Jontae Allen and senior Antony Yatskov. They each had five quarterback sacks last year.
Marlon Barrios will also see action on the defensive line.
Verdine returns at inside linebacker.
"He played a ton last year," Mannion said.
At outside linebacker, the Mavericks will have junior Landon Sherman and Broussard.
"We're still developing and getting better there," Mannion said.
Schrock, an all-league pick a year ago, and Simpson will be at cornerback.
At safety, Mountainside will have Montero, who was an all-league pick, Hughes, Dahlback and Cohen.
"We want to be fundamentally sound and hustle on defense," Mannion said. "We want to be swift and scrappy."
The Mavericks have another weapon in Dahlback, who returns as both kicker and punter. Last year, he was a first-team all-Metro League selection as a punter, and a second-team pick at kicker.
"We put a lot of value on special teams," Mannion said.
Overall, it adds up to what could be a promising season for the Mavericks.
"We're still a young program," Mannion said. "But I love the kids' approach and their commitment."
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