Graduation hit the Mount Paran Christian football team hard.
The Eagles lost a number of key pieces from a 2018 team that went 7-4 and scored the second-most points in Region 6A (B), while also allowing the fewest.
However, the Eagles’ offense will remain in experienced hands as rising senior Niko Vangarelli will be returning for his third season as starting quarterback.
“Niko leads from the front and is a guy who is going to work hard in the weight room,” Mount Paran coach Mitch Jordan said.
Vangarelli, who has offers from Ivy League members Cornell and Columbia, threw for 1,029 yards and nine touchdowns last season. He also ran for 833 yards and nine touchdowns and will help make up for the loss of running back Jack Allen, who ran for 861 yards and 13 touchdowns.
The dual-threat quarterback will not be asked to do all of the work for Mount Paran this season. Jordan said there are good players around Vangarelli, which will allow him to share the offensive responsibility.
Jordan said he will likely turn to Matthew Moore, Joe Hyland, and Luciano Corpora-Ellis to compete for additional playing time at running back this fall.
On defense, Mount Paran will need to fill holes at defensive back after the losses of Jake Wilson and Kyle Terry. Jordan said Moore, who made 39 tackles and led the Eagles with four interceptions in 2018, and Jett Allen as possible replacements. Additionally, Vangarelli will continue to play double duty as a strong safety.
The Eagles will also have to rebuild their linebacking corps, as outside linebackers Ben Parker and Cameron Ealey will be leaving, along with middle linebacker Jack Phipps. The trio combined for more than 160 tackles.
Replacing the graduating linebackers will be rising juniors Dawson Smith and Nick Oyola. Jordan also said that sophomores Carson McKenzie and Evan Warren will also likely see significant playing time.
Mount Paran’s non-contact spring practices allowed some of the Eagles’ returning players to further develop their skills, but Jordan said that it also gave college scouts an opportunity to look at a couple of prospects.
Jordan said 6-foot-5, 240-pound Jackson Manning, a tight end and defensive end, is being looked at as a player who is being scouted by multiple teams in the Football Championship Subdivision.
Additionally, Freddy Coleman, a 6-2, 270-pound offensive and defensive tackle, has begun to garner the attention of colleges this spring.