MOUNT VERNON — It’s been a few years since the Mount Vernon football team’s final game has had much meaning. This year, it’s dripping with reasons to watch.
The Yellow Jackets will travel to New Albany on Friday night to play the Eagles with all kinds of things riding on the outcome. The Ohio Capital Conference Capital Division title, a five-game winning streak, a shot at the playoffs and the respect of the rest of Central Ohio are all on the line when the teams square off at 7:30 p.m.
“I think the kids are pumped. They realize the implications of this game, and are excited about getting to play it, especially our seniors,” said Mount Vernon coach Gary Keller. “Anytime you have a good senior class like we have, those seniors are really looking forward to their last opportunity of playing together as a football team. They have a lot riding on this. ... It’s nice to be in this situation where we’re at. I just want to see us put our best football game together one last time. If we can do that, I think everybody will be happy.
“The thing you’ve got to remember, in any kind of situation like we’re in right now, if everybody throws their best into it, there’s enough good things that come out of it for everybody. It’s just a big time right now and probably our seniors are more aware of how big it is than anyone in the program.”
The Jackets (6-3 overall, 5-1 OCC) are coming into the game riding high, winning five straight games, including a victory last week over Big Walnut, the No. 3-ranked team in Division II at the time. They are in second place, just one game behind New Albany (9-0, 6-0) and a win would give the Jackets a share of the league title.
“We’ve waited a long time to have this kind of success. We want to enjoy it and make the most of it,” Keller said.
The Jackets will have their work cut out for them with the Eagles, though. New Albany has run roughshod over most of the OCC and its nonconference opponents, only playing two games where the contest wasn’t decided until late. Senior Alex Hake leads the Eagles offensively, rushing for 1,001 yards and 17 touchdowns. Quarterback Bryant Bednarek can also stretch the defense as he has passed for 930 yards so far. Kevin Collins is his favorite receiver, while Jordan Gallegos can also run the ball and is a threat on special teams.