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THE GRIND: Pinecrest Academy's Ojeda has an appetite for winning
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Pinecrest Academy running back Mitchell Ojeda proved himself a big-play threat last season when he averaged 9.1 yards a carry.

Mitchell Ojeda will start his mornings with three key ingredients: bacon, eggs and cheese. He follows up his meal with a protein shake, and when he’s done he embarks on the day’s schedule, which consists of eating, running, eating, exercising, and more eating.

“Every two hours after the gym at night I set alarms for myself to eat,” Ojeda said. He squeezes in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a protein bar during the day, and when he gets home from school he eats a full meal before heading out for his evening workout.

Digesting the reality of Ojeda’s routine requires an understanding of his nature: he’s constantly moving, and he prefers life that way. As a member of Pinecrest Academy’s football and lacrosse teams, Ojeda has been a constant resource of energy. That asset is paramount in football, where Class A private schools like Pinecrest often field football teams with roster sizes that rarely eclipse 60 players—Pinecrest enters this season in the high 40s.

Because of the lack of depth, many skill position players are asked to play both ways a heavy amount during games. While two-way stars are not uncommon at larger schools as well, in Class A, the key is preventing injury and never running out of fuel, and Ojeda has taken that challenge to heart.

Last season Ojeda was the leading rusher outside of the Paladins’ start quarterback, Ryan McCarthy. Ojeda carried 81 times for 744 yards, averag

Because of the lack of depth, many skill position players are asked to play both ways a heavy amount during games. While two-way stars are not uncommon at larger schools as well, in Class A, the key is preventing injury and never running out of fuel, and Ojeda has taken that challenge to heart.

Last season Ojeda was the leading rusher outside of the Paladins’ starting quarterback, Ryan McCarthy. Ojeda carried 81 times for 744 yards, averaging a team-leading 9.1 yards per carry, and scored eight touchdowns.

Defensively, Ojeda had 24 tackles—21 of them in the open field, proving his quick-twitch skills—and three pass breakups. He even returned an interception for a touchdown.

This season, Ojeda might be asked to do more as a receiver from the wingback position, as head coach Todd Winter alluded to recently.

“Hopefully we never have to throw, but if we do, Ojeda has done a tremendous job of improving his catching ability,” Winter said.

Ojeda caught zero passes last season, mainly thanks to the 27 receptions from Nick Palmer and 10 from Logan Hamilton. The Paladins were set on the outside.

“I feel good as a receiver,” Ojeda said. “It’s a good change for the offense.”

Ojeda is willing to do anything to help Pinecrest forward, which means improving on a 7-4 finish from last season. Pinecrest, which Ojeda has been a part of since kindergarten, is something he holds near to his heart.

“There’s no other place like it. Everyone knows each other, and it’s just family oriented,” Ojeda said. “I always looked up to the Pinecrest varsity team and strived to be like them.”

Ojeda also picked up lacrosse as a freshman, which keeps him busy during the spring. But, more importantly, the sport has amped up his conditioning even more. As a midfielder, Ojeda has to constantly have his head on a swivel. He says his experiences on the lacrosse field have improved him as a defensive back.

“It’s helped an insane amount,” Ojeda said.

Ojeda hasn’t been pursued by any colleges yet, but hopes to attend Georgia, Georgia Tech or Georgia State and play club lacrosse. For now, however, football reigns supreme.

“I have high expectations for us this year,” Ojeda said. “We are super bonded because we had camp away. The chemistry is there. We just have to put it all together.”