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Mundy’s Mill looking to build on 2013 success

Mundy’s Mill coach Greg Manior and his team wrapped up its first week of spring practice on Friday. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)

Mundy’s Mill coach Greg Manior and his team wrapped up its first week of spring practice on Friday. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)

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Junior quarterback Rodricous Gates is expected to play a bigger role with the Mundy’s Mill offense after the graduation of all-state running back Rodney Smith. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)

JONESBORO — In year two of the Greg Manior era, Mundy’s Mill experienced success on and off the field.

The Tigers reached the quarterfinals of the Class AAAAA playoffs last season while producing the top offensive and defensive players in the county. Off the field, Mundy’s Mill had nine players, including the program’s first two major college signees, to sign scholarships in February.

Now, the task for Manior is to maintain the success he has built in his first two seasons at the school.

This year’s rising senior class says they are determined not to be a one-hit wonder on the playoff scene.

“We are still hungry, and looking for more,” senior offensive lineman Darius “Pancake” Anderson said. “We’ve got some spots to fill on this team, but we have some players that can get the job done.”

Mundy’s Mill returns four starters on each side of the ball, but there are some key losses on each unit.

Offensively, the Tigers graduated all-state running back Rodney Smith. Last season, he was one of the top rushers in the state after amassing 2,201 yards and 26 touchdowns. He signed a scholarship with Minnesota on National Signing Day in February.

Also gone is top tackler Jonathan Celestine, who also signed with Minnesota.

Manior is confident that the upcoming group will be ready for the challenge when preseason practice starts in August.

“I feel good about the direction we are heading in as a program,” Manior said. “Right now, the upcoming seniors realize what it takes to get to the next level. I think last year’s senior class left a big legacy and challenge for the upcoming team. I think our guys are hungry to continue last season’s success.”

But Manior realizes replacing someone like Smith will be a tough chore. In the last two seasons, he rushed for 3,776 yards and 41 touchdowns.

“It is a hard task to replace Rodney, and I don’t think you do it with just one guy,” Manior said. “We have three to four guys that we will be looking at to get those carries that he had last season. Rodney was such a big threat to break one at anytime. We think about three guys can equal what he did for us the last two years.”

Anderson said it will be up to the offensive line to do its job if they are to have some success.

“We have to block our butts off to give our running backs a chance,” said Anderson, who being recruited by several Division I schools. “We have to give our running backs the opportunity to score if we are going to have some success.”

The Tigers return quarterback Rodricous Gates, who passed for 1,398 yards and 16 touchdowns in last season. He will be asked to do a little more this season.

“Rod is looking good during the spring workouts,” Manior said. “There are still some things that he needs to work on, but it is our job to coach him up.”