Last year was a memorable one for the Mohawk High football team.
The Warriors captured the Midwestern Athletic Conference championship and advanced to the WPIAL Class 2A quarterfinals.
However, graduation hit Mohawk hard. Now, the Warriors are looking to rebuild.
“We lost 11 seniors. The majority of them were really good football players and a few of them very good football players. All 11 contributed to our team. It’s definitely a different team,” Mohawk coach Tim McCutcheon said. “My philosophy doesn’t change much, but we’re built differently. It’s no overhaul, but, certainly, we are tweaking things.”
Since there were so many vacancies, McCutcheon is thrilled to see competition and a willingness to learn.
“It’s been fun for me. It’s a much younger team and our offseason has been great,” he said. “Their enthusiasm really shows. Most of these kids grew up playing with that group that graduated. They practiced with them and played with them and they know we are the underdogs now, but they don’t want to drop the torch that’s been handed to them.”
Mohawk excelled at passing and running the ball last year.
There will be some new faces doing both this fall.
Sophomores Marc Conti and Boden Leslie are in a battle at quarterback, while Vincent Argiro could carry the ball a lot. Jordan Mollenkopf returns as the slot receiver, while Brian Cline, Hunter Faulk, Cory Brown, A.J. Carnuche and Ethan Fritzley could all figure into the passing game.
“We’re really young in the skill positions,” McCutcheon said. “Some of them are starting to show some good things.”
The Warriors return experience on the offensive line with returning starters Josh Kurtz and Nick Beam at tackle and Brian King at center. Charlie Shillingburg and Ethan McAnlis have experience, too.
“That’s where our strength lies. I am happy about that,” McCutcheon said. “We took a hit with graduation, but we do bring back three starters and a couple guys who got significant playing time. Those guys have been hitting the weight room hard the last couple years.”
McAnlis, Kurtz, Beam, Shillingburg and King will see time on the defensive line. Faulk returns at linebacker along with Fritzley and Cline. Mollenkopf is a returning starter in the secondary, while Conti, Carnuche, Argiro and Brown will see time.
“I guess the main strength we have is our attitude. We have a very positive attitude. That has been their big change over the last couple years,” McCutcheon said.
“Everyone is treated like family. That’s our approach. We know we’re the underdog this year, but I think the kids are embracing it. It’s been great. We have a lot of guys who have been sponges and are eager to learn. It’ll be a fun year.”