MT. JULIET — Ground and pound is the Mt. Juliet football team’s philosophy this fall, dictated by the five returning starters on the offensive line.
“We love to run the ball,” said Mt. Juliet senior tackle D.J. Delfendahl, a Middle Tennessee State commitment. “As linemen, we like to get our hand in the ground, fire off and drive.”
Delfendahl, a three-year starter, is the most experienced player of the group, which includes senior guards Jacob Parker and Justin Satterfield, and center Drew Tompkins. Tackle Cade Hoppe, a junior, is the lone underclassman. Tyreece Stone and Codi Esquivel also playing extensively.
“We are honestly the closest group,” Tompkins said. “We hang outside of football. We have the ultimate confidence in each other.”
All seven players in the rotation weigh 250 pounds or more, with Satterfield topping the list at 6-foot-7, 310 pounds.
“We’ve talked about it for seven months,” Mt. Juliet coach coach Trey Perry said. “Our identity has to be running the football. We talked about it in the weight room, in the offseason, through camp and in game prep. It’s not smoke and mirrors. We’re going to run the football.”
Mt. Juliet (1-1) is averaging 5.5 yards per carry through the first two weeks. The Bears host defending Class 6A state champion Ravenwood at 7 p.m. Friday in the Region 3-6A opener for both teams.
“I’m very confident in that group,” Perry said. “They care about each other. Loyalty is there for them. They don’t want to let each other down and let the skill people below them down.”
The Golden Bears are hoping to improve on a 15-18 record over the last three seasons.
“We’ve had less than stellar years,” Delfendahl said. “That’s motivation. We want to be in that state championship game. If we’re not, it’s disappointing. It makes us work harder.”
Said Perry: “They’ve been through some fire and thrown into it, going against the Oaklands with a senior-dominated team that had SEC-level players. We hope that pays off.”
Reach Craig Harris at 615-259-8238 and on Twitter @CHTennessean.