MONROE football PREVIEW
Bearcats’ refreshed roster won’t slow team down
Not many head coaches talk about how graduating two of their most impactful and productive players will serve only to improve the strength and chemistry the next year’s team, but that’s exactly what Monroe High School Football Head Coach Michael Bumpus highlighted as what he’s looking forward to for this season.
“Not having those two out there for the defense to key in on is going to make things hard for whoever we’re going against” Bumpus said about recently graduated Monroe standouts running back J.J. Jerome, who eclipsed 2,000 yards on the ground in 2016, and dual-threat quarterback Zach Zimmerman.
The 2016 season saw the Bearcats finish with an overall 9-2 record (6-1 division) and ranked 16th in the state, amounting to their first playoff appearance since the Bush administration — the first one — in 1991. However, after losing two of their final three games, a bad taste remains in the collective mouths of this year’s Bearcats, with their sights set on improving that record and getting over the next hurdle in a quest for a state title. Winning the title would be the first in Bearcat school history.
Personnel changes aside, when asked about the biggest difference between this year’s team and last year, Bumpus was quick to mention his offensive philosophy, citing the pass to rush ratio from the last year being 40-60, but that he expects the breakdown this year to be more of a 55-45 split, further emphasizing his commit-ment to success, and not specifically to a run-and-gun or ground-and-pound philosophy.
“We are going to do what works,” the coach, who’s a former Seahawk, said. “We have a lot of really good guys on this team, and we are just going to have to see who steps up. Our big guys up front are going to give us the flexibility to figure that out.”
As for the Bearcats defensive strategy this year, “versatility” was the word of the day. Bumpus highlighted that they’ll let the flow of the game and production dictate the tempo, style, and play calling, but that how they prepare is going to be the key to the separation from their opponents.
When asked about his locker room leaders, Bumpus was any-thing but shy to hold back his praise, immediately highlighting a handful of his difference makers.
“We are expecting a lot from guys like Josh Jerome (verbal commit to Eastern Washington University) who plays both sides of the ball, but could be one of the best defensive lineman in the state this year,” Bumpus said. “And Jaedyn Pruitt’s stepped up and is going to be taking the snaps; we’re excited to see him take on that challenge.”
Bumpus was emphatic about the impact he expects from his most experienced player, “it wouldn’t be right to not mention Nathan Mead, he’s our only four-year starter and mans the middle
at center. He’s a grinder, day in and day out.” Bumpus further lauded his excitement by labeling this year’s class as the best offensive line he’s had the opportunity to coach, but that having a player like Mead in the middle made it special and would prove to be one of the difference makers for the Bearcats this year.
With the recent track record for these Monroe Bearcats, pressure to succeed is at an all-time high. With the senior leadership on both sides of the line, anchored by Josh Jerome and other playmakers at his disposal, to say Bumpus has high expectations would be an understatement.
“To me, anything less than a state championship would be a disappointment, especially with this group of players,” the coach said.
2017 Monroe schedule
All games are at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted
Friday, Sept. 1 at Meadowdale (8 p.m. game)
Friday, Sept. 8 vs. Sedro-Woolley
Friday, Sept. 15 at Kamiak (Goddard Stadium)
Friday, Sept. 22 vs. Cascade
Friday, Sept. 29 vs. Glacier Peak
Friday, Oct. 6 at Mariner (Goddard Stadium)
Friday, Oct. 13 vs. Mount Vernon
Friday, Oct. 20 at Jackson
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