MOUNT VERNON — Finally, they’re playing for real.
The Mount Vernon Yellow Jacket football players — and their coaches — have seen enough of scrimmaging. They’re all chomping at the bit to play a game that counts, when it’s all on the line.
Or, at least a game in the standings is on the line.
“We’ve got nine other games,” said Mount Vernon head coach Anthony Naples. “You can’t make one game your Super Bowl. On the other side of the coin, you want to come out with a win. So we have to do the things we do well. The little things.”
The Jackets haven’t had a lot of success in their scrimmages this year. Of course, the scores don’t count — actually, a lot of the players couldn’t even give you the scores — but the look and feel of the team on the field does. And if Mount Vernon looks to start 2012 on the right foot, the team will have to gel on both sides of the ball in a hurry.
“We really took a lapse after our first scrimmage,” said Naples. “We lost some enthusiasm and we had the two-a-day blues. But, I think we’re in a good position this week. We feel comfortable with what we’re doing.”
Sophomore Greg Dennis gets the nod at quarterback for the Jackets in Week 1. Dennis led the freshmen team last season, and was a key part of the middle school teams before that. Now, he has to adjust to the speed of the high school varsity game.
“As of now, he has (adjusted),” said Naples. “But it’s different on Friday night. Last year, we had a quarterback who we thought could do it, and he had troubles in the games. So, step-by-step, play-by-play, we’ll see.”
With a full off-season of focused skill sets and weight training, the Jackets appear stronger and more focused than last year’s 2-8 squad. But, despite a jump in the number of players expected to suit up, the numbers still aren’t there for a lot of depth.
For the team to win, Mount Vernon has to avoid game-changing mistakes.
“We have two sophomores in the backfield,” said Naples. “They’re finally feeling comfortable. ... It’s going to be about eleven guys doing things the right way. That’s what we’re shooting for. I’m old school. In that first game, you have to play mistake-free, and not try to create the wheel.”