No one believes there will be a major drop off for Mountain Pointe football.
There is enough talent there for the coaching staff to mold into another 10-win season at the least.
“We have the pieces in place to make the semifinals,” said Pride coach Norris Vaughan, who has reached at least the semifinals in four of his five seasons heading the program. “We will be disappointed if we don’t get that far.”
The biggest questions for the Pride will be on defense and at the wide receiver position as outgoing seniors dominated the depth chart at most of those positions.
The one thing the Pride should have a handle on is the running game. Mountain Pointe returns three starting linemen and the two other spots will most likely to be filled with guys who would have started at just about any other team in Division I last season.
Mountain Pointe’s running attack cranked out 3,500 yards on the way to the state championship with three main ball carriers doing the damage.
Paul Lucas sped his way to 1,008 yards on 105 carries for 12 touchdowns, Brandyn Leonard was a good inside runner while picking up 626 yards on 99 attempts with 11 scores, while Wesley Payne was the hammer who brought some nastiness for 938 yards with 12 touchdowns on 138 runs.
Payne’s role will be a big void to fill, but the Pride just might have a reasonable replacement to go along with the L&L boys in 2014.
Senior-to-be Tyrek Cross and his uncle moved here from Minnesota where he played at Rosemount High, which finished as the state runner-up in Class 6A.
The 5-foot-8, 200-pound Cross has been hitting the holes hard and his big thighs will not be well received by the opposition.
Foot injuries limited his touches for Rosemount, according the team’s coach, Jeff Erdmann, but the team turned to him during the postseason as he had 25 carries for 178 yards in three games, including 140 on 12 carries in the first round of the playoffs.
Overall, he had 57 carries for 402 yards (7.1 yards per attempts) and five touchdowns in nine games, according to the StarTribune’s website.
“I’m a physical runner,” he said. “I wasn’t a versatile running back, but I’ve been working on being an every down back. I want to be able to do it all.”
Vaughan was impressed with what Cross showed in the three weeks of spring ball.
“You can tell he has the instincts for the game and he brings some attitude,” Vaughan said. “He has fit in fine and will help us replace a lot of guys who we don’t have anymore.”
Cross has been impressed with the program in the time he spent with his new teammates.
“I am getting used to the heat. It’s a great atmosphere and there is good competition,” he said. “I knew I was going to have to work hard to earn my spot.”
He feels like the three-man backfield situation will be hard to stop.
“It’s going to be nasty,” said Cross, who has received interest from Iowa State, Illinois State and San Diego State, according to a recruiting website. “You can take one guy out and the other guy is going to keep it going. I know what it is like to play in a championship game and I didn’t like losing. They know what it is like to win and we have some great leaders.”
And that falls right into Cross’ goals for the season.
“I want to win,” he said. “I want to get an (scholarship) offer. Some kids get an offer and lack off. I am not that way. I am 100 percent all of the time.”
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