Middletown probably didn’t have this game circled on the calendar at the start of the year.
But Mount Pleasant has been the biggest surprise in Delaware football this season. The Green Knights are on everybody’s radar now.
There will be no surprises when fifth-ranked Mount Pleasant (5-1 overall, 4-1 Blue Hen Flight A) travels to fourth-ranked Middletown (4-2, 3-1) for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff Friday at Cavaliers Stadium.
“What a great job they’ve done this year,” Middletown coach Mark DelPercio said of the Green Knights. “I’ve been impressed. It was that element of not knowing what Mount Pleasant is about, because they weren’t in Flight A last year. It’s just an entirely new experience.”
Mount Pleasant coach Randy Holmes couldn’t be reached for comment, but his players’ actions have spoken louder than any words could. The Green Knights never went better than 5-5 in the previous five seasons while playing in Division II. An increase in enrollment pushed them into Division I this season, but they have responded in a big way.
After an easy win over Brandywine to open the season, Mount Pleasant edged Newark 35-34 on Sept. 19 when the Yellowjackets missed an extra point in the final minute.
That was thought to be a surprise at the time, but it looked a lot less like an upset the following week when the Green Knights erased a 12-point deficit in the fourth quarter to down then-No. 4 Concord 21-19.
Mount Pleasant’s only setback was a 31-13 loss to top-ranked William Penn on Oct. 5, a game in which two Green Knights opportunities from the 1-yard line were wiped out by a fumble and a penalty.
Junior quarterback Jashawn Johnson has passed for 13 touchdowns and run for four more, spreading the throws among physical senior receivers Ronald Shipman-Scott (five TDs), Nigel Bynum (five TDs) and Rob Myrick (four scores). Senior running back Dannon Williams has crossed the goal line three times, and senior Jahleel Thomas rushed for three TDs in a 49-12 win over Delcastle last week.
“They’ve got good size, and they’re good athletes,” DelPercio said. “That’s an exceptional receiving corps, but you’ve got to have a quarterback, and the quarterback is getting the ball to them.
“They’ve got running backs that run hard. They’ve got some size. We have our hands full Friday night, no doubt about it.”
Middletown, meanwhile, has come out on the short end against the state’s best. The Cavaliers’ losses have been to William Penn (13-7) and No. 2 Salesianum (20-6), when they were undermined by five turnovers.
Middletown switched from a split-back veer to a one-back offense last week, with Kedrick Whitehead rushing for two touchdowns in a 35-7 win at A.I. du Pont. Running back Frankie Datillo suffered a broken tibia against William Penn, and fellow runner Lyle Bryant has a variety of ailments, including a broken hand.
“We were running out of running backs, simply put,” DelPercio said. “We’ve run a lot of the one-back stuff before. It’s not something that’s new to this program. It still has a lot of the veer elements to it.”
Contact Brad Myers at [email protected] Follow on Twitter: @BradMyersTNJ