After the Johnstown-Monroe High School football team scored three touchdowns in its first five plays Aug. 11 in a scrimmage against Mifflin, Riley Cannon seemed to be right at home behind center.

After the Johnstown-Monroe High School football team scored three touchdowns in its first five plays Aug. 11 in a scrimmage against Mifflin, Riley Cannon seemed to be right at home behind center.

The senior patiently waited his turn at quarterback and is finally getting his chance, much like several others for the Johnnies.

Johnstown returns only two starters on offense and five on defense from a team that finished 8-3 overall, won its second consecutive MBC title at 7-0 and reached the Division V playoffs for a third consecutive season.

"I've always worked out as a quarterback during summer workouts, but now it's my time to step in," said Cannon, who played tight end and defensive end last season when the Johnnies fell to Ready 21-17 in the first round of the playoffs. "We have a lot of young guys. We don't have many seniors on the offensive line and they are taking advantage of the opportunity given them. They have to take us where we need to be."

The two offensive returnees for the Johnnies are senior tailback Brad Couts (6-foot, 205 pounds) and junior guard Ben Schmidt (6-0, 220). Also back is senior wingback Scott Robinson, who was the top substitute in the backfield.

Couts ran for 1,381 yards in 224 carries with 11 touchdowns. Robinson was limited by injury last fall, rushing for 329 yards in 38 carries with three touchdowns.

"We have a young team, so we need to stick to the basics and the fundamentals of football," said eighth-year coach Mike Carter, whose team opens Friday at Granville.

"We're working hard to prepare our technique and the kids have been pushing themselves hard enough to build confidence."

The Johnnies run an unbalanced-I offensive set with Cannon and Couts being joined in the backfield by Robinson (5-8, 170) at wingback and junior Frankie Chambers (6-1, 180) at fullback. Senior Reed Franklin (5-11, 175) will line up at wide receiver.

The line will feature Schmidt and senior Jacob Kennedy at guard with a rotation at the tackles featuring juniors Kenny Evans and Tyler Hawes as well as freshman Tim Sayer. Junior Blake Ashbrook will play center and junior Taylor Atwood is the tight end.

"It's a lot different being a senior than I expected because as seniors, you have to be the ones who set the tempo for the team, and the team kind of rolls off of what you do," Couts said. "We have a young team and they have a lot of enthusiasm and energy. That's really good for the team because we feed off their energy and it helps us."

The five starters back on defense are Cannon, Couts, Kennedy and Robinson at linebacker and Franklin at safety. Cannon started at defensive end last season and Robinson played safety.

The line on the 4-4 defense consists of sophomores Joey Dismuke and Nick Sanfillippo at tackles and Chambers and Hawes at ends. Kennedy and senior Justin Deal are inside linebackers with Cannon, Couts and Robinson rotating on the outside. Robinson also will see time at safety with Franklin, with senior Brian Caudill and junior Nick Schuler at cornerback.

"These kids have a great work ethic and a positive attitude. They love to hit and play football," said Carter, who is assisted by offensive coordinator Dan Carter, defensive coordinator Marc Wilson, special-teams coordinator Jason Phillips, Don Carter, John D'Andrea and John Ross. "We need to gain experience in a short amount of time, and that's my only concern so far."

Junior Patrick Benton returns as the place-kicker after hitting field goals of 23, 29 and 30 yards and missing a 32-yarder. He was 28 of 38 on extra-point attempts and also will be the punter.

Returning kickoffs and punts will be Franklin and his brother, sophomore Ross Franklin, as well as Robinson and senior James Sapp.

"As a senior, you have to make sure you go all out on every play because the younger players are looking up to you and you also don't want to let your team down," Reed Franklin said. "You have a lot of pressure on you, but it's a good pressure."

The Johnnies have another kind of pressure on them, as they have moved up to Division IV after qualifying for the playoffs in Division V each of the last three seasons.

"We look at this like any other year," Carter said. "If you work hard, play well and win games, you have a good chance of being rewarded by playing in the playoffs. (Moving up to Division IV is) out of our control."