CHERRY TWP, Pa. (EYT/D9) — The Moniteau football team feels the need … the need for speed.
So does senior center/defensive tackle Maverick Sutton (more on that to come), but he and the rest of his teammates have been seeing a lot of speed so far in camp.
Good thing. Moniteau, coming off a disappointing 2-6 campaign in 2020, are a bit undersized.
“We have one of the fastest lineups we’ve had, possibly in school history,” Sutton said. “We’re looking to hopefully let that play into winning some games.”
Sutton is one of those undersized guys on the line for Moniteau at 5-foot-10 and 190 pounds. But he’s also quick, as is the rest of his offensive line mates. He’s excited to see what the speedy skill guys can do with the cracks he and the line open for them this year.
“The backfield we had last year — don’t get me wrong, we had a lot of power back there — but we’re seeing speed from our running backs that we’ve never seen before, guys running 4.4, 4.5 40s,” Sutton said. “We’re setting new standards for Moniteau football. Teams are going to look at last year’s film and see we ran a lot of power stuff. This year we’re going to try to get those speed guys in the open field. That’s gonna be a big thing for us this year.”
Those speedsters are plentiful, starting with seniors Cooper Boozel and Caden Roxberry, who should help the Warriors stretch the defense. There’s also Hunter Stocker, Tony Daniels — who joined the team as a senior after not playing football since his youth days — and several others who are in the mix at the skill positions.
The thing they have in common: speed, of course.
“We’re going to tailor a lot of what we do around the speed of our team as a whole,” said Moniteau coach Bob Rottman. “It’s exciting to have a different style of athlete than we’ve had in the past. We’re trying to manipulate our playbook to fit that.”
Moniteau isn’t going to completely abandon its power game, though. That’s where Matt Martino comes in. The 6-foot, 220-pound junior fullback can move piles with the best of them. He also has deceiving speed.
Even the quarterback position will be filled by an uncommon athlete.
Sophomore David Dessicino takes over under center. At 6-foot-4, he’s one of the tallest QBs the Warriors have ever had and he’s also quick with a strong arm.
“He’s a big kid, and he can run and he can throw,” Rottman said. “Obviously, a little raw and rough around the edges, but that’s why we’re here at camp. We’re going to really focus on getting his technique down and the mental part of the game for him. When he gets it, that’s a little scary for the teams we play.”
All those skill guys will be operating behind a small, but agile line anchored by Sutton, who has an affinity for pancake blocks and the movie “Top Gun.”
He was named after the character, Maverick, from the movie starring Tom Cruise. Tattooed on his left bicep is the “Top Gun” logo with the words, “You can be my wingman anytime” under it. His older brother, Greg, has the same tattoo on his arm.
“We have five copies (of the movie) at home,” Sutton said. “It’s one of those movie for me that never gets old. You hear ‘Danger Zone’ and it never gets old.”
Sutton is hoping the trenches will be a danger zone for Moniteau’s opponents.
While undersized, Sutton is confident the line can be as tough and as physical as they come.
“Some of the lines we’re going to play may possibly be twice our size, so we have to use our speed and get off the ball,” Sutton said. “If you can get off the ball when the other guy is still in his stance, it doesn’t matter how big he is, you’re gonna knock him over.”
Along with Sutton will be Logan Campbell and Mikey Boozel at guards. There is a competition in camp for the starting tackle positions.
“There’s options there. I think our depth is better this year, too,” Rottman said. “Our numbers aren’t as good as they were last year, but the quality of those numbers are really good.”
Many of the same speedsters and quick linemen will also play defense. Rottman is hopeful speed and quickness will be an equalizer on that side of the ball as well.
Outside of Moniteau, expectations are low for the Warriors. Not so inside the building.
“We just want to defy what everybody’s gonna say about us,” Roxberry said. “We’re gonna be a small team and a young team coming into the season, so we just want to defy everybody’s expectations of us.”
COACH: Bob Rottman
LAST YEAR: 2-6
STRENGTHS: Speed, speed and more speed. The Warriors will try to find a way to get the football in the hands of their wealth of speedsters this season. … Junior Matt Martino, who is bigger than many of the Moniteau offensive linemen, could be an X-factor at fullback for the Warriors.
WEAKNESSES: Size. The offensive line is quick and athletic, but one of the smallest in District 9. Moniteau hopes to make up for that deficiency by firing off the ball and spreading opponents out. … The schedule does Moniteau no favors with road games at Kane (the season-opener), Ridgway and DuBois.
OUTLOOK: If all the tumblers align, the undersized offensive line holds up, first-year quarterback Dessicino shines and Moniteau can get the ball into the hands of its ultra-fast playmakers consistently, the Warriors could be one of the surprise teams in 2021.
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