2015 Mineral Ridge Football Preview

2015 Mineral Ridge Football Preview
Head Coach: Jeff Whittaker, 19th season (104-88)
2014 Record: 4-6 (3-4), ITCL Lower Tier
5-Year Winning Percentage: 50.0%
Division/Region: 6/19

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2014 Team Stats
Rushing Offense: 150.4
Passing Offense: 114.8
Total Offense: 265.2
Scoring Offense: 15.8 (45th in Area)
Scoring Defense: 28.3 (35th in Area)

2014 Statistical Leaders
Rushing: Nick Ferguson – 804 yards, 5.4 ypc, 8 TDs
Passing: Mac White – 1148 yards, 44.8%, 7 TDs
Receiving: Sam Kooyman – 25 catches, 479 yards, 4 TDs
Tackles: Christian Herbert – 71
QB Sacks: Nick Ferguson – 2.0
Interceptions: Sam Kooyman – 2

2015 Schedule
Aug. 28 – at Salem, 7
Sept. 4 – at Lisbon, 7
Sept. 11 – Newton Falls, 7
Sept. 18 – South Range, 7
Sept. 25 – at Columbiana, 7
Oct. 2 – Sebring, 7
Oct. 9 – at Lowellville, 7
Oct. 16 – McDonald, 7
Oct. 23 – at Western Reserve, 7
Oct. 30 – Jackson-Milton, 7

Key Losses: Obviously, graduating possibly the top two skill players (Sam Kooyman and Nick Ferguson) on the team will affect the way the coaching staff views their offense entering camp. Kooyman averaged 19.2 yards per catch (4 TDs) last year and Ferguson gained 5.4 yards per tote (8 TDs). Losing Kooyman and Ferguson will also be distressing on defense. Kooyman finished with 46 tackles and 2 interceptions while Nick had 47 defensive stops and 2 quarterback sacks from his linebacker spot.

Key Returnees: Quarterback Mac White threw for 1148 yards and 7 scores. White also was the team’s punter as he averaged 30 yards per kick (38 punts). Linebacker Christian Herbert led the Rams in tackles with 71 last year.

Key Storyline: At the end of Coach Whittaker’s initial campaign, Ridge won three of their last four contests. How will they improve from year one to year two will be something to follow as the season progresses? In the new North Division, the Rams have not had much success as of late against their other five opponents. Ridge has won just once in their last seven tries.

Strengths: With the return of Zane Rummell and Christian Herbert up front, Ridge could have one of the up and coming offensive lines in the North Division. The team loses Ferguson and Kooyman – two players who gained an average of 5.1 yards on the ground combined – but they have had good luck with freshmen last season. Michael McLean led the freshmen with 270 yards rushing (2 TDS) while Jarred Miller (9.6 ypc, 2 TDs) and Alex Kooyman (6.6 ypc) were used sparingly but still found success.

Weaknesses: Mineral Ridge is looking for answers in a few spots this off-season. On offense, who will be catching the football is a major question? Losing their top four receivers (Sam Kooyman, Tracy Cross, Nick Ferguson, John Bourgoin) will leave behind 76% of Mac White’s completions and 74% of the receiving yards. Senior Travis Rose caught 7 balls for an average of 16.1 yards per catch. Sophomore Michael McLean finished with 8 receptions for 90 stripes. On defense, more of the same, the Rams will look to find players who can stop the opponents’ running game after allowing 198 yards on the ground. It doesn’t help that Ridge lost four of their top six tacklers from last fall. The Rams return a trio of experienced senior linemen in Austin Reese (28 tackles), Zane Rummell (27 tackles) and Thomas Pope (26 tackles).

Game to Watch: October 16 vs. McDonald
…Still, the big game in Ram Town is the match up with McDonald. Over the last five years, Ridge holds a slight advantage over their border rivals, 3-2. However, two straight losses to the Blue Devils has many hoping that this will be their year to get one by McDonald. Many forget that the Rams held a 4-2-1 after the series’ first seven meetings back in 1967.

New ITCL Blue Division
Mineral Ridge
Western Reserve

Odds and Ends
…Last year, the Rams finished the month of September with a 1-4 mark. That was the first time in 13 years (since 2001, 1-3) that Mineral Ridge had posted a sub-500 record in the month of September.

Recent League Finishes
2014: 5th ITCL Lower (3-4)
2013: 6th ITCL Lower (2-5)
2012: 3rd ITCL Upper (5-2)
2011: T-5th ITCL Upper (3-4)
2010: T-2nd ITCL Upper (5-2)

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