For years the Class AA Interstate Conference has been ruled by Greensburg Central Catholic, Jeannette and Washington.
Fast-forwarding to 2013, things have changed a bit -- the Vikings of Mount Pleasant have worked their way into the title picture.
Halfway through the season the Vikings couldn't ask to be in a better position, sitting atop the conference with Washington with 5-0 records. Jeannette is a game behind at 4-1 after losing last week to the Little Prexies, while Greensburg Central Catholic is having a bit of an off season at 2-3, 2-2.
"So far we are progressing from week to week," sixth-year head coach Bo Ruffner said. "We had some good weeks of practice and just focused on getting better every single week."
The stats have shown the progression that the Vikings have made, outscoring their opponents, 214-44. A large part of their offensive success is contributed to the four-headed rushing attack.
The Vikings have piled up 1,671 yards through five games, thanks to senior running backs Tyler Mellors, Ryan Ballew, Brett Fess and senior quarterback Ryan Gumbita.
"Our system is predicated on that," Ruffner said. "We have three backs plus Ryan at quarterback. It is a four-back system running the football. We take pride in taking what the defense gives us every week. Ryan is a very good quarterback and we have guys who can catch the football as well."
"Our backfield is very unselfish. Every week is a different player shining and you never know until that Friday night who it is going to be. We get the game plan ready but you really don't know until Friday who is going to be the back to shine."
Last week without a doubt it was Mellors night to shine. He finished with 226 rushing yards and three touchdowns in a 50-21 win against Yough. This was his second three-touchdown performance of the year after he did so in Week 1 against Waynesburg. Mellors leads the Vikings pack with 120.4 rushing yards per game.
Ballew and Fess joined in the fun last week as both rushed for a touchdown and Gumbita scampered in for two scores.
The Vikings will have their hands full on offense on Friday when they play host to Jeannette (4-1, 4-1).
"The thing that we always do is focus on the game at hand," Ruffner said. "We will have our total focus with Jeannette and it is our homecoming game. We understand the tradition they have and the type of team they are so it is going to take our best effort to get it done this week.
"I can't control what they do. They will be prepared and coach [Roy] Hall will have their guys ready to play. They feel their backs are against the wall right now and we expect them to play a great game."
But it isn't only the offense that has carried the Vikings to victory through the first half of the season. Last week was the first time the defense has given up as many as 20 points in a game and they were coming off a string where they allowed 3, 0 and 7 points, respectively.
"Our defense is playing outstanding this year," Ruffner said. "I really think that has been a bright spot for us. Our kids have settled into the rolls and are getting after it. We take great pride in getting better each week. If we can play great defense we will have a shot to win games and the conference [title]."
Even though Ruffner refuses to look past this Friday's game, a win against the Jayhawks would make next week's showdown at Washington that much more important.
The Vikings are looking to better last year's mark of 8-3, which included a trip to the WPIAL quarterfinals where they lost to Aliquippa. They know how important it is to keep progressing.
"There is a lot of work that can be done," Ruffner said. "We have really progressed from Week 1 to Week 5 and each week we continue to play better. We understand we need to continue to get better and we can't be satisfied with where we are right now.
"Every year is a different year. This is a different team than we had last year. It is this group of seniors' time and we will go as far as their leadership takes us.
"We feel like we have a good group of kids. The Interstate Conference is historical -- a really good conference. If you are going to be a playoff team or make a run at winning the conference title, you need to have your 'A' game."