First Posted: 8/20/2014

Half of the Dallas Post football team will be the same this year and half should be different as the Mountaineers return starters at roughly half of their positions.

Coach Bob Zaruta said he will keep the team’s approach essentially the same on one side of the ball while changing it on the other.

“We have a new offensive system,” Zaruta said. “Our defense didn’t play that bad last year, but we struggled to put the ball in the end zone.”

Dallas scored just two touchdowns in the first five weeks of a 1-9 season. After managing only 45 points through eight games, the Mountaineers discovered their offense late to beat Tunkhannock, 35-0, before losing to District 2 Class AA champion Lake-Lehman, 48-41, in the finale.

Zaruta came away from the first scrimmage at Dunmore happy with the team’s progress.

“Our defense played very well,” Zaruta said. “On the offensive side, we started a little slow, but as the scrimmage went on, we got better.”

The Mountaineers return Ryan Monk, a major college prospect as a football lineman and a heavyweight wrestler, as well as their top rusher, passer and receiver from a year ago.

Monk, a tackle/defensive end, and Justin Mucha, a slotback/cornerback, are two-way returning starters and the team’s captains.

Mucha, who also plays running back in some sets, led Dallas in receiving with 23 catches for 407 yards and four touchdowns and also scored almost half the team’s points.

Junior Matt Harrison started the second half of the season at quarterback and put up decent numbers, going 51-for-114 for 816 yards and eight touchdowns with just five interceptions.

Ryan Cheskiewicz, who averaged 5.3 yards per carry while running for a team-high 282 yards on the season is part of the backfield mix. Cheskiewicz and Mike Olenginski are back and will share the two running back spots with Bret Storrs, who missed much of last season with an injury.

Omar Nijmeh returns at one receiver spot. Tanner Gattuso and sophomore Christian Roberts are expected to get some time when another is used.

Ryan Martin moves to tight end where he is expected to start.

The offensive line has experience with Monk, Ian Spare and Mike Farrell. Spare started at tackle as a sophomore and is moving to guard. Farrell got a lot of playing time at tackle last year as a freshman.

Jason Morgan is at center and Jason Anderson and James Geiger are working at the remaining guard position.

Monk and Farrell are both back at defensive end. Spare will be between them.

Mike Shutlock and David Simpson, one of the team’s top defensive players as a sophomore, are back to fill two of the five linebacker spots. Cheskiewicz, Olenginski, Geiger and Cole Dixon are all expected to get significant playing time.

Mucha returns at one cornerback. Roberts or Gattuso will be at the other. Storrs is the safety.

Sophomore Ron Ostrowski is the kicker.

Dallas will have a new turf field with lights at some point this season. The Mountaineers have moved their first home game, against Scranton, to Misericordia University at 1 p.m. on Saturday Aug. 30 and will likely move one or two others.

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