The 2015 season was a tough one for the Mineral Ridge Rams as they finished with a 3-7 mark which saw their playoff drought reach 10 years.

Last year’s schedule was probably as challenging as any faced in the area, with five playoff teams with an overall record of 43-13.

It doesn’t look to get any easier this season as the schedule again boasts four playoff teams plus McDonald and South Range who finished 6-4 and 7-3 last year respectfully.

“Last year, we had a lot of veterans actually, but most of our skilled players were sophomores,” Mineral coach Jeff Whittaker said. “We were very competitive but the problem was our youth at the skilled areas.

“These guys are still young as juniors, but it’s now an experienced youth. We have two-year starters and hopefully that should help us.”


The Rams will again run their spread offense as they look to replace starting quarterback (Mac White 676 yards passing) and tailback (Tait Rummel, 882 yards rushing).

Alex Kooyman looks to be the Rams’ new starting tailback as he led the Rams’ in yards per carry (8.2) rushing for 164 yards on 20 attempts. Jacob Lesko might take over under center. Also returning is Mike McLean who had 27 yards rushing on 11 attempts.

“We don’t know who’s going to start anywhere,” Whittaker said. “We would assume that guys that started last year would step up and play. We have several guys in contention for the quarterback spot. He’s [Lesko] one of them.”

Whittaker does like the team’s overall speed as he feels the players who started last year as sophomores are starting to mature.

“They’ve been there and seen it,” Whittaker said. “Plus, this is their third year in the system. That always helps. They had changed coaches for three years. Now, we’re getting into a consistent system and they’re more comfortable with what the expectations are and also with the terminology of the system.”


The Rams will have to replace four starters from last year’s defense. Returning is Justin Cox who led the defense with 61 tackles and two interceptions.

“He’s back and that’s a plus,” Whittaker said. “Our cover guys are back on both of our deep halves [Kooyman and Jarred Miller], plus Justin at free safety.

“We have our inside and outside linebackers [McLean, Darren Jordonek, DeCosta Baptiste] back. Those skilled players are again experienced. Last year, they were probably a year away.”

The Rams struggled giving up 25.6 points again last season and 128.5 yards per game.

Special Teams

Whittaker feels the strength of this unit is his returners with McLean, Kooyman, and Baptiste handling kickoff and punt returns.

Danny Linebaugh will take over kicking duties.


The Rams will need to get out of the gate better than they did last year (losses to Salem and Lisbon) to give this group the confidence it needs.

“Success and failure is about attitude, confidence, and turning plays on the field,” Whittaker said. “You have to make more plays than they do. We need to have turned more big plays than our opponent. It comes a lot of times with confidence.

“Once you get to that hump and then over it, and gain a little bit of that confidence, I think it’ll make a world of difference,” Whittaker said. “Last two years, we’ve been opening with Salem, who’s been pretty good so we haven’t been able to get out of the blocks with any confidence. Hopefully, we can get out of the blocks with some confidence.”

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