High school football preview: Moniteau Warriors
Mason Mershimer Fights for Extra Yards (Photo courtesy of Shawn Murray)
Head Coach: Bob Rottman (3rd Season)
Last Season: 3-7, Seventh in D9 Large School Division
Key Returners: JD Dessicino (738 rushing yards, 2 INT on defense), David Stamm (117 rushing yards) and Matthew Martino (48 tackles, 3 tackles for a loss)
After a disappointing injury-filled 2019, the Moniteau Warriors enter 2020 rejuvenated and ready to compete for a district title. The Warriors’ newfound depth on the offensive and defensive lines will keep the team well-rested, while Moniteau’s increased offensive maturity should help their offense further build their strong rushing attack. JD Dessicino returns as Moniteau’s leading rusher, and he looks to be the cornerstone of a Warriors team who has exhibited tremendous enthusiasm and focus in the preseason. Although many positions are up for grabs this season, Moniteau’s emphasis on conditioning and team organization puts the team in a position to bounce back in 2020.
What to Watch For
Coach Bob Rottman’s Moniteau Warriors team struggled to get things going last season, with injuries forcing the team to dress only 17 players in some late season contests. This year, things are looking different for the Warriors, who have 33 rostered players this season, up from 24 last year. Rottman believes the COVID pandemic may be responsible for the rise in players and strong attendance at summer practices: “I don’t know if it’s the coronavirus and kids being cooped up since March, but this has been the best summer for attendance, as far as workouts go, that we’ve had since I’ve been here, even as a junior high coach.” Rottman has been making good use of the preseason workouts: “We have been able to do a lot more with running offensive plays which we haven’t been able to do in the past, so we should be a little crisper in our discipline, running plays, blocking schemes, and stuff like that,” said Rottman, who is excited by his team’s motivation in this uncertain time for high school football.
JD Dessicino was Moniteau’s impact player last season, and he will look to further improve upon his strong offensive and defensive performance. Dessicino and fellow running back, Mason Mershimer, should be the main ball carriers for the Warriors, and the pair’s close relationship off the field has paid dividends on the field. “[The two] seem to be best friends on and off the field, and they’re always pushing each other,” said Rottman. “They’re both here every day, and they’ve been here in the summer working hard in the weight room and doing a lot of conditioning. They [also] stepped up into a leadership role [this season]. I think that [their relationship] ultimately is going to help them be better on the field.”
The Moniteau offensive line returns four starters, which is key in continuing to further develop the Warriors’ identity as a no-nonsense, smashmouth running offense. The Moniteau offensive line emphasized their focus on conditioning this offseason and believe that they are far more fit now than this time last season. The line was especially excited to see high attendance at the summer workouts, which should help keep them fresh on both sides of the ball. Rottman pointed to Matt Martino as his standout offensive lineman, stating that “he has the ability to be an all-conference guard as a sophomore.” With the graduation of center Donnie Thomas, Maverick Sutton and Mikey Boozel are set to compete for the open center slot, while other strong underclass linemen look to compete with the starters for game time.
At the quarterback position, David Stamm and Brady Thompson are set to battle for the job. While Rottman wants to name a starter before the season begins, he stated that the position was still up for grabs: “They’re definitely going to be in a quarterback battle up until the first game. Right now, they’re neck-and-neck, and I couldn’t name a starter if I had to. My goal is to name one a starter and then find the other one a home, because one way or another, they’ll both be on the field.” The athleticism and versatility of both quarterback options should allow both players to contribute offensively, no matter who lands the starting quarterback job.
The Warriors’ defense is fresh off an 11 interception season, and Moniteau returns all eight of its players who snagged a pick last year. Rottman cited his team’s ability to disguise their defensive coverages as vital to their past success: “Last year we did a little better at disguising [and switching] our coverages, because a lot of teams are going to a no huddle offense, and they’re calling their offense based on how the defense is lined up. Our goal is to disguise [our coverage] and shift it at the last minute.” Rottman is willing to give his defense “freedom” over their ability to skillfully mask their intentions, and Moniteau’s defensive experience should make them even better at generating turnovers.
Rottman’s team is ready to hit the ground running, displaying a positive attitude and hard working mentality that was absent last season. “I have an endless number of kids that came back this year where the attitude and effort shown at practice is 180 degrees [different] than last year. A lot of the seniors have come in motivated and [have showed up] all summer. The effort and the attitude that they’re giving at practice, I haven’t seen that out of them yet,” said Rottman, who is enthusiastic to “see that attitude and work ethic on Friday nights.”
Moniteau’s new depth and strong returning starters have provided the team with a fresh attitude coming into the 2020 season, as they attempt to avenge a disappointing 2019 campaign. JD Dessicino looks to be the player to watch for the Warriors, who should benefit from a veteran offensive line. Moniteau also has strong takeaway potential on the defensive end, making the Warriors an upset-minded threat this season. We wish good luck to Moniteau in their upcoming season!