Prairie City-Monroe’s football team rode both the highs and lows of a roller coaster season in 2012, and the Mustangs will be looking for some increased consistency this year.
After starting out the year with a thrilling, one-point victory on the road at Roland-Story, the Mustangs lost three straight games, including a 44-6 hammering at the hands of Pella Christian. Even though the team took three wins in four weeks toward the middle of the season, its three straight losses to finish the year left a bad taste in the Mustangs’ mouths.
They’re looking to change that this season.
“It looks like we’re going to be quite a bit better than last season,” said Bonnett. “We have a lot of returning players, and they’re already ahead of where we were at this point last year.”
The Mustangs return plenty of their contributors from last season. Both of the team’s leading rushers — Zach Uhlenhopp and Blake McWilliams — will be entering their senior seasons and ready to carry the load on the ground for PCM.
Uhlenhopp was also the second-leading receiver from last year’s squad, and with Ethan Kain gone, he will likely be asked to shoulder the load through the air.
Although, Uhlenhopp was also the back-up quarterback to now-graduated starter Nate VandeWall, Bonnett has other ideas in store for the senior.
“Zach was a big part of our offense last year. He did a lot of things for us at receiver and running back” Bonnett said. “We’ve got him locked in at wide receiver on offense right now, and he’s going to be playing some free safety on defense for us.”
Replacing the dynamic combination of Kain and VandeWall will probably be the biggest task at hand for Bonnett, but he sounded confident that this change of pace style would compensate for the loss.
“We don’t have a quarterback this season that has the same type of pinpoint accuracy that (Nate) had last season for us,” Bonnett said. “It’s going to be a totally different offense this year. We’ve put in some new formations with two tight-end sets. We want to establish the run a lot more this season. We’re going to be running out of the I-formation a lot more, using two running backs and looking to grind out some games.”
With McWilliams returning to the backfield, that will probably prove to be a very fruitful strategy for the Mustangs. McWilliams posted 404 rushing yards and six touchdowns in 94 attempts on the ground, averaging 4.3 yards per carry.
The Mustangs will start their 2013 campaign on Friday, Aug. 30, at Knoxville.