Mountain View rode a powerful running game to the state playoffs last season, Rob Kellogg’s first as the Bears’ head coach. The veteran coach moved up from an assistant role when Nick Bach left for a job in Maryland.
A physical line was a big factor in last year’s ground success, paving the way for nearly 2,800 rushing yards. Kyle Brown, Garrett Jackson, Kaise Hill, Daysan Ranew and J.J. Hodges are the five guys tasked with keeping the line play at a high level this season.
“They’re an outstanding group in terms of what they’re willing to give (in effort),” Kellogg said.
The two guys who gained the bulk of last year’s rushing yards have graduated, though. Davian Criss rushed for 1,446 yards, and quarterback Luke Hennebaul ran for 767. The go-to back this year figures to be powerful runner Enoch Walters (pictured), an experienced back who ran for 400 yards as a sophomore and 493 last season.
“Offensively, we feel like we can go a couple of different ways,” Kellogg said. “We really morphed into a strong running team last year. We feel like our scheme allows us to take advantage of our skill. Rather than have a scheme we make our players do, we want our players to feel comfortable with what we’re doing.”
The wide receiver position features considerable talent, too. Senior Garrett Spikes, a 6-foot-4 target who has committed to Georgia for baseball, is joined by juniors Rahnell Jackson, Nyquel Austin, Marcus Brand and Mossiah Carter in the rotation.
With Hennebaul gone, Nathan Payne inherits the starting quarterback spot.
“(Payne’s) very big, very athletic with a good arm,” Kellogg said.
The Bears will feature a senior-laden front seven to anchor the defense.
Jeremy Tuider, an athletic defensive end, joins Jakobe Walls, Gabe Hill and Ismael Hdabe on a promising defensive front. The linebacker position also is a strong point with returning starter Jacob Lund, as well as Connor Wright, who has moved to rover from the secondary.
“We look real good on defense,” Kellogg said. “We have some depth this year that we did not have last year. Our D-line, our linebackers and our skills all look good. Obviously, we would rather be deeper than we are, but we really feel like we developed some depth there. Being the second year in this scheme really helps us. We don’t have many busts at all anymore. Everybody’s on point. I think we’re going to be very good on defense.”
Kellogg likes his secondary, too, though that group will be young — four juniors are likely starters.
After six straight losing seasons, Mountain View has grown into a successful program with state playoff appearances the past three seasons. The Bears are 24-10 during that span, even more impressive considering they posted 16 combined wins the previous six seasons. Kellogg is hopeful this senior-heavy group can make it four straight postseason trips. “A new group of seniors is always exciting, to see what kind of leadership skills they have, what they’re willing to do to step up,” the coach said. “I like all of our senior class. They expect to win a little more than we have in the past and that’s good.” … Kellogg made some offensive additions to his coaching staff that included two former Gwinnett football players, Chandler Cross (North Gwinnett grad) and Tanner Botts (Peachtree Ridge grad).