MOUNT VERNON — The Mount Vernon football program is in the hands of the players.
That was the central message that new head coach Anthony Naples wanted to get out to his kids.
Naples met with the team for the first time on Tuesday. As the players sat in the school auditorium and listened during the 30-minute gathering, Naples made it very clear what he expected from the players.
“I want you in that weight room,” Naples said. “I want you in there every day. I want you in there during study hall or after school.”
Naples let the players know why he expected the hard work from his players.
“I’m looking to build a program here,” Naples said. “And that’s the last time you’re going to hear me say the word ‘I’. This is not about me. You are going to build this program, not me.”
Naples told the players about his coaching history. He referred to Jim Tressel, who recruited him to play at Youngstown State. He also talked about his time as an assistant at Lock Haven University and as head coach at Columbus Westland.
“Every place I went,” Naples said, “the players were the leaders. The program starts with the players.”
This is a program that has had little recent history with success. Mount Vernon’s 6-4 record last year was the first time the team had sniffed a conference title in several years. In between, there were a number of lean years where a successful game just meant being within shouting distance of a victory in the fourth quarter.