The Mustangs started the 2018 season 6-0 with four nonregion wins and 7-AAAAAAA wins over Lakeside and Berkmar. Then they lost four straight to the region’s heavier hitters. The closest margin was 25 points (against Central Gwinnett).
Senior quarterback Quincy Bonner (pictured), a recent Army commit, is back for a third straight season as the starter under center. Bonner accounted for a total of 2,137 yards and 19 touchdowns in the last two seasons.
“He started 21 games for us, which is huge for a quarterback,” said head coach Jason Carrera, who has overseen the resuscitation of the Meadowcreek program the last four years. “Everything rotates around him.
“We also have Josh (Green) and Harry (Torp) who are three-year starters on the offensive line. To have guys up front that have the game experience these guys have is going to be huge as well.”
The Mustangs spent the summer refining their offensive line depth, but have some questions at running back.
“Outside on the perimeter, we’ve got some younger guys in the slot that have some game experience that will help us out including Jabari Ponders, but we’ve still got some questions outside. We’ve got to find guys for Quincy to throw the ball to.
“But I do feel good about where we are up front.”
As Meadowcreek climbed out of decades-long doldrums, the sheer size of the line stood it in good stead. The Mustangs averaged 305 in 2017 and 295 last year. They won’t be quite as big this season, but there’s experience and athleticism to compensate.
“Although we may not be as big as we’ve been in the past, we’ve really been focusing on our communications this offseason and making sure we have our schemes down, our calls down, so we can make up for not being as big as year’s past,” Torp said.
Meadowcreek graduated nine starters, most importantly in the secondary, but has senior Joe Jenkins back to lead the defense.
“We’ll look for him to be that quarterback of the defense, but we’ve got to put some guys around him,” Carrera said. “We have some strength on the defensive end and the line. Josh will play some defensive line for us, along with some other guys up front and pull some double duty. But Treyvon Davis should help us out tremendously at defensive end.”
There’s a change at defensive coordinator this year with Bryant Harris’ promotion.
“Bryant Harris has been with us all five years that I’ve been there,” Carrera said. “He’s a great coach who really sold out for our program and has great relationships with our kids. He’s kind of been the guy making the calls, but now he’s going to take over with the scheme and everything. That’ll be big for us.”
With a dynamic offense and nine new starters on defense, Carrera and offensive coordinator Rex Robertson are working on balancing the agenda.
“Rex and I are both offensive guys and it’s hard for us to slow ourselves down,” Carrera said. “We want to go, go go. Trying to maintain our pace, and we’ve had some of those discussions of how fast do we want to go so we keep our offense on the field. We have confidence in our offense, but we feel those first couple of games are going to help our defense get some experience as we get into region play.
“We’ve seen great progress from them through the defense camps and the 7-on-7s. We just feel like that has to continue.”
Carrera talks to the team often about being what he terms “a dependable,” someone who does what is supposed to be done when it’s supposed to be done in all areas of life.
“That’s important to our success and the culture of our football team,” Carrera said. “I actually hired a culture coordinator. God put a person in front of me that kept sending me a resume and kept texting me. Finally I said, ‘There’s a reason this guy keeps popping up and I sat down to talk to him.’ When I did, I understood where he fit in our program. Some of the things he’s gone through made him that perfect person.”
Looking back at his freshman year, Green said there wasn’t much cohesion on the team.
“It was more people were in their own little circles,” the senior guard said. “I think now we’ve progressed as a whole group. That helps on and off the field.”
They’re driven to keep pushing the program forward.
“Day in and day out, we take care of the little things,” Torp said. “We focus on that. The games really aren’t won on Fridays. They’re won on the days and months leading up.”