Five Key Players
RB J.J. Jerome (6’0, 220, ’17) – Jerome runs with a bruising style, but he’s also got soft hands and the ability to make guys miss in the open field. Jerome should see recruiting really pick up with a big junior season and he’s got the ability to be a real weapon at the FBS level.
LB Dillon Fargo (6’0, 200, ’16) – While he isn’t the biggest guy on the field, Fargo plays big. He’s a sure tackler, he understands the game and he is the leader of the defense. Another big season for Fargo is expected and he should have some looks from smaller college programs who feel he can come in and play somewhere in the back seven of their defense.
OL/DL Aiden Cain (5’9, 255, ‘16) – Cain is one of the toughest players on Monroe’s team. He sets the tone up front for the offense and he will be a key at center and nose guard this fall.
QB Zach Zimmerman (6’1, 180, ’17) – Zimmerman makes the move from receiver to take over for his older brother, Andrew, at the helm of the Bearcats’ offensive attack. He should be a threat with his legs as well as his arm and as the season goes along he could wind up being the difference-maker they need at the position.
WR/DB Jesse Jarosky (6’0, 170, ’16) – The coaches love Jarosky’s potential on both sides of the ball. He brings a toughness to the game and he should put up some big numbers as a receiver out of the slot and in the secondary.
Year one of the Mike Bumpus era begins at Monroe and the Bearcats have a chance to have a pretty special season.
“I’ve been really impressed with the ‘buy in’ and the offseason participation of our guys,” Bumpus told Northwest Elite Index this summer. “I think we have some really good players here and I’m excited to get this thing started. We had a great spring and I think we should be pretty tough this season.”
A big reason for Bumpus’ optimism is the fact that he inherit an offensive line that is loaded with experience.
At center, while he’s not your prototypical offensive lineman, senior Aiden Cain (5’9, 255) is one of the Bearcats’ best players. He makes all of the line calls and adjustments and he’s been a real leader this offseason.
Cain will be flanked by sophomore Nathan Mead (5’9, 265) at right guard and senior David Morales (6’3, 270) at left tackle.
Other players who will be battling for spots are senior Austin Mead (6’1, 270) and sophomore Carter Habich (6’2, 255) at right tackle and junior Jordan Borchardt (6’2, 245) at left guard.
The line will definitely be helped by the presence of one of the top runners in the state in J.J. Jerome, a 6’0, 220-pound bruiser who rushed for nearly 900 yards and 14 touchdowns as a sophomore last season.
Jerome is also a very good receiver – 29 receptions, 239 yards and five touchdowns – and he’ll be used quite often in the screen passing game.
Backing up Jerome will be Deacon Thibault (5’8, 160), a shifty, change-of-pace runner with the ability to make guys miss in the open field.
At quarterback, Bumpus is very high on junior signal-caller Zach Zimmerman (6’1, 180), the younger brother of last year’s quarterback, Andrew Zimmerman, who signed with Eastern Washington.
The younger Zimmerman was the top receiver on the team last season, but he makes the move to quarterback so that the coaches can use his athleticism and underrated arm as a weapon in their attack.
“He’s a great competitor,” Bumpus said. “I think he’ll be really good there and he’ll be a threat for us as a runner too.”
When Zimmerman drops back to pass, he will have a deep group of wideouts to throw to.
“We’ve got six to eight guys that I feel really comfortable with,” Bumpus said. “We can throw almost any of those guys out there and not have a drop off.”
The top two wideouts on the team are senior Jake Morelli (6’3, 170) and sophomore Isaiah Cole (5’8, 175) .
While Morelli can get down the field to make plays, he’s at his best on short and intermediate routs while Cole is at his best out of the slot, getting the ball in space then letting his natural, open-field running abilities take over.
Joining those two is a group different body types that should force some matchup problems for opposing defenses.
Seniors Jesse Jarosky (6’0, 170) and Grant Soules (5’11, 170) make their money out of the slot while junior Blake Bingham (5’11, 160) and rising sophomore Isaiah Lewis (6’1, 190) will work also be in the receiver rotation.
On the defensive side of the ball, Monroe will have a lot of players move over from offense.
Three players that will move over are Cain (nose tackle), Morales (defensive end) and Austin Mead (defensive end/tackle).
Sophomore Josh Jerome (6’1, 245), J.J.’s younger brother, in a player the coaches think can be a star if he continues to develop. With his lower-body strength and good instincts, he could wind up playing almost anywhere along the defensive line.
The linebackers are led by senior Dillon Fargo (6’0, 200), an All-Conference player as a junior, who led the team with over 80 tackles.
In addition to Fargo, keep an eye on senior LB Nick DiMonda (6’0, 195), who missed the entire 2014 season with a knee injury.
The secondary has some very talented players including senior Riley Kennedy and Cole at the corner spots while Jarosky is a heavy-hitter at strong safety.
The Bottom Line: Bumpus couldn’t have walked into a better situation. Former coach Brett Jay did a good job of building up what was once a bad program into an upstart and now the Bearcats will count on Bumpus and his assistants to take them to the next level. With their solid defense and impressive running game, Monroe definitely should be in the mix for the WESCO 4A title and could make a run at a state playoff berth as well.
@ Kamiak (10/2)
Vs. Lake Stevens (10/9)
@ Cascade (10/16)