Mount Pleasant has plenty of offensive firepower. A week ago, the Vikings scored a school-record 74 points against Charleroi Area.
But Mount Pleasant coach Bo Ruffner said he's been even more impressed with how well his team has done on the other side of the ball.
"I'm real happy with how we're playing defensively," he said. "We're playing a team defensive game. Guys know their roles. We have a bunch of guys stepping up."
The undefeated Vikings (4-0, 4-0) will try to keep their coach happy by playing excellent defense -- while continuing to get big contributions from their offense -- as they enter their toughest stretch of the season.
You could call Mount Pleasant "the other" contender for the Class AA Interstate Conference title. Washington and Jeannette, two other Interstate unbeatens, are traditional powers that generally get more hype than Mount Pleasant.
The Little Prexies and Jayhawks meet tonight on Root Sports, the winner moving one giant step forward toward finishing the season with conference supremacy.
Mount Pleasant will be able to make its statement over the next three games. Its previous four opponents are a combined 3-13, but the Vikings must travel Friday to Yough (2-2), before hosting Jeannette and then playing at Washington. Mount Pleasant began last season 5-0, before falling to Washington and Jeannette.
"Right now, Yough is our focus," Ruffner said. "We need to play our best football this week. Going on the road to [Yough's] Cougar Mountain is never an easy thing."
Scoring against Mount Pleasant is a difficult task, as well. The Vikings surrender 5.8 points per game, which is the second lowest mark in Class AA. Only Waynesburg (13 points) has scored more than a touchdown against them.
The strength of the defense is a line led by senior tackles Eric Klejka and Jessie Leonard. They are joined by senior end Marcus Malara and junior end Jaylon Ansell.
"You have to have great line play if you want to be any good," Ruffner said. "We have a good corps of linebackers and defensive backs, but everything starts up front with that line."
And then there's the offense that is averaging 41 points per game. The Vikings' wing-T attack has been executed to a "T" by senior quarterback Ryan Gumbita and senior running backs Tyler Mellors, Ryan Ballew and Brett Fess.
Mellors leads the Vikings in rushing with 376 yards and seven touchdowns. Last season, Mellors rushed for 1,490 yards and set a school record with 25 touchdowns. Ballew and Fess both have more than 200 yards and are averaging better than 12 yards per carry.
Franklin Regional rebounds
Last Friday at Greensburg Salem, Franklin Regional found itself trailing in the third quarter and was on the brink of dropping consecutive games for the first time since 2008.
The Panthers rallied to win, 42-20, however, by scoring the final 28 points of the game, and now hope to continue to rally around one another in what has been in injury-filled season.
"We're kind of struggling," Franklin Regional coach Greg Botta said. "We've had some key people out. We have three sophomore starters and another sophomore who has also started. But we have guys stepping up. We're just trying to keep things together."
Franklin Regional has overcome the adversity to post another strong start. The Panthers (3-1, 3-1) are tied with Mars Area and Highlands atop the Class AAA Greater Allegheny Conference. Franklin Regional won at Mars, 20-13, in the season opener, but the Panthers were shut out at home against Highlands, 17-0, two weeks ago. Last week, Mars did Franklin Regional a favor by defeating Highlands, 39-0, forcing a three-way tie.
Franklin Regional senior quarterback Charan Singh scored on a 45-yard run to put the Panthers in front of Greensburg Salem, 21-20, and the Panthers added three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to ice the win.
"I was really happy with how the offense played after being shut out the week before," Botta said.
Among the Franklin Regional starters to be hampered by injuries have been senior defensive lineman Adam Mihoci, senior linebacker Pat Kukalis, senior tight end Dylan Wallace, junior wide receiver Carter Patrick, junior running back Brett Zanotto and senior guard/linebacker Marty Novak.
The Panthers play host to Belle Vernon Area in a non-conference game this week.