MANSFIELD — In Week 3 of the 2011 football season, the Mount Vernon Yellow Jackets have their next best chance at earning their first win for head coach Anthony Naples.
More importantly, it’s a chance to turn the season around.
The Yellow Jackets aren’t as high in spirits as they were two weeks ago. Going into their first game, the players were enthusiastic, energetic and optimistic. After an 0-2 start, the attitude has changed a bit.
“These kids have been moping around with their heads held down,” Mount Vernon head coach Anthony Naples said. “They need a win.”
A trip to Mansfield Madison on Friday may be just what the doctor ordered.
The Rams are 2-0, but they aren’t unbeatable. They fell behind Newark last week by 10 points before playing a one-sided second half that shook the Wildcats apart. Madison dropped two punt returns that led to scores by Newark in the first half. However, by the end of the game, Madison had piled up 364 yards on the ground, including 133 from quarterback Alex Lampert. Not good news for a Mount Vernon team that allowed 302 against Cambridge last week. Defensively, the Rams allowed minus-24 yards on the ground — a far cry from the 37 points per game they allowed last season.
But the Rams don’t throw very often. And if the Jackets can grab and hold onto an early lead, it could force Madison out of its game.
“It looked to me on film that (Madison) tried some different things against Newark that they thought would work,” said Naples. “And then, in the second half, they went back to who they are, and it worked. That’s what we know for sure. They’re going to come out really aggressive. And that’s what we have to get ready for. “
Mount Vernon totaled just 134 yards in last Friday’s 29-6 loss to Cambridge. The Jackets had a three-touchdown deficit by the end of the first quarter, due in part to the benching of Bradley Fenton and Shawn Maxwell for violating team rules.
This week, the team is healthy — and ready.
“The only people who did good on Friday night was the cheerleaders, our trainer and our student section,” said Naples. “We didn’t come out to play when we came off the bus. We didn’t do the things we need to do. It was a collection of errors that just rolled on us.
“We’re going to have to put the ball in the air,” Naples continued. “You can’t have nine or 10 guys line up in the box. We are working with our quarterbacks to get better.”
It certainly hasn’t been an easy road so far for the Jackets, who have already played two perennial playoff contenders.