Prep football: Mustangs reload for tough district

Prep football: Mustangs reload for tough district

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Prep football: Mustangs reload for tough district

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Graduation losses were heavy for the Merritt Island High football team, so the 2012 season could involve a bit of starting over.

The names of those gone include three defensive players who were mainstays last season: Andrew Adair and Ryan Matticks at linebacker along with Mitch Matthais on the line.

Joe Mocerino, who didn’t ring up the same numbers, may be the one to trump them all, having been a fixture on both the offensive and defensive lines.

Only one player returns on the offensive line. Four of the other five were either junior varsity or freshmen last season.

On the other hand, “other than a wrinkle here or there,” head coach Jeff McLean said not much will change in the system, so those young linemen will have the same roles they’ve had on sub-varsity teams. Mustangs football has turned out quality linemen and been physical up front with regularity, and McLean is optimistic about that part of the team.

“I think the offensive line is progressing, for the inexperience we have there,” McLean said. “They’ve come a long way.”

He also likes his quarterback, 220-pound Nick Smith, who played a few snaps there last season but was a regular in the secondary.

“I think he’s a nice mix,” McLean said. “He understands the game. He has a nice arm and good size.”

In addition to good kicking competition, the Mustangs have some returning players for building defensively. Joey Batch is a third-year starter in the secondary, while lineman Josh Zirkle and Ty Schwab also are back.

Merritt Island, the defending Class 5A, District 13 champion, will have time to grow. Last year’s runner-up, Astronaut, also suffered heavy losses.

“I think it’s a tight district race,” McLean said. “I think Rockledge is the team to beat. Of the rest, I don’t think one is better than all the others.”

2012 Mustangs schedule

2012 Mustangs schedule

Aug. 31CENTENNIAL

Sep. 7at Harmony

Sep. 14at East Ridge

Sep. 21TITUSVILLE

Sep. 28COCOA

Oct. 5ROCKLEDGE

Oct. 19at Astronaut

Oct. 26at Space Coast

Nov. 2at Satellite

Nov. 9MELBOURNE

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