Johnstown-Monroe headed to playoffs despite bump up to D-IV?

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Johnstown-Monroe Football

The defending Mid-Buckeye Conference champs will have their hands full
this season with a schedule that includes a Sept. 4 hosting of Heath, an Oct. 2 home date with Fredericktown and an Oct. 9
trip to Utica. If the Johnnies can somehow manage that and avoid any
other slip-ups, they could be on their way to another preferential spot
in the postseason.


Johnstown-Monroe (8-3)

* Players To Watch – RB/LB Brad Couts (5-11, 210, Sr.); RB/LB Scott Robinson (5-10, 165, Sr.); QB-TE/DE Riley Cannon (6-4, 200, Sr.); OL-FB/DL-LB Jacob Kennedy (5-10, 170, Sr.); OL-FB/DL-LB Reed Franklin (5-11, 175, Sr.); WR/DB Kortney Cartwright (6-0, 170, Sr.); WR/DB James Sapp (6-0, 175, Sr.); WR/DB James Gorsuch (5-9, 165, Sr.); PK Patrick Benton (5-10, 170, Jr.); OL/DL Ben Schmidt (6-0, 225, Jr.); TE/LB Taylor Atwood (6-2, 190, Jr.).

* Outlook –
The defending Mid-Buckeye Conference champs will have their hands full this season with a schedule that includes a Sept. 4 hosting of the Heath Bulldogs, an Oct. 2 home date with Fredericktown and an Oct. 9 trip to Utica. If the Johnnies can somehow manage that and avoid any other slip-ups, they could be on their way to another preferential spot in the postseason brackets as the final three games are against middling teams Danville, Howard East Knox and Johnstown Northridge.

However, a return to the postseason wouldn’t have the same feel as the Johnnies are no longer in Division V – they earned the 4-seed in Region 19 last year – and instead have been dropped into perhaps the deepest region in D-IV.

Among the Region 15 foes also vying for a top-eight spot are Marion Pleasant, Williamsport Westfall, Ironton, Utica, Licking Heights, Columbus Bishop Hartley, Coshocton, Sparta Highland, Pomeroy Meigs and Piketon, which are all coming off winning seasons and have promise for a productive 2009 campaign.

Still, it’s still understandable to be awed by Johnstown-Monroe’s depth and assemblage of top-tier players, even after it lost the likes of linebacker Kurt Sammons, free safety Josh McClellan and bulldozing fullback Will Carter.

“We have some great leaders returning for this year,” said Mike Carter, who is entering his eighth season as the head coach of the Johnnies.

Even with Will Carter – the son of the head coach – departed, the running game should be in good hands and on sturdy legs as Couts returns from a season in which he took 224 handoffs and netted 1,381 yards, and average of 6.2 yards per tote.

A first-team All-Central District performer last season, Couts is the whole package. He is an honor student who also plays lacrosse and is a workout warrior with a bench press of 355 pounds, a 40 time of 4.68 and a 29½-inch vertical.

Robinson should provide a dangerous change of pace. He is a step quicker than Couts and gained 329 yards rushing on just 38 carries last season.

If you have to develop a new quarterback, why not start with a cannon? That’s Riley Cannon, who made more of a name last year as a defensive end with 48 tackles and two sacks.

Smart, versatile and athletic, Franklin typifies this roster and also should be a playmaker on both sides of the ball.

At beginning of last season, Carter said, “We felt we underachieved losing in the second round of the playoffs. The team and especially the senior class has worked extremely hard in the off-season and have high expectations for the 2008 season.”

Most of those objectives were met, but a first-round loss after the program reached the playoffs for the third straight year has this team hungry for more in ’09.

The Johnnies actually dropped their first two games last season – a 35-23 setback in the season opener with Granville and a 28-14 loss at Heath in Week 2. However, Carter rallied the troops and the offense found another gear in winning the remaining eight regular-season games, scoring an average of 34 points per contest.

Johnstown-Monroe took an 8-2 mark into the Region 19 playoffs but was clipped 21-17 at home in Week 11 by Columbus Bishop Ready.

That’s all history now, though.

And Carter has been in charge long enough to know that great seasons are built in the summer, when the team members find a common ground, build their team camaraderie and put in the work that will pay off in the fall. Carter enjoys that part of the process.

“You try to help the kids go to college and things like that,” he told a local newspaper. “You help them prepare in the offseason with weight training and conditioning. You have to have them keep on top of their grades and making sure they are behaving and stuff in a way that represents their school with class and their families with pride.

“This is a 365-day per year job, and that’s by choice. Being a member of a coaching staff is like an extension of the family. And a family is every day.”

2009 Schedule

Aug. 28 – at Granville
Sept. 4 – Heath
Sept. 11 – at Hebron Lakewood
Sept. 18 – at Centerburg
Sept. 25 – Loudonville
Oct. 2 – Fredericktown
Oct. 9 – at Utica
Oct. 16 – Danville
Oct. 23 – at Howard East Knox
Oct. 30 – Johnstown Northridge

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