MOUNT VERNON — This is unfamiliar territory for the Mount Vernon Yellow Jackets.
It’s the first time Mount Vernon has started a season 2-0 since — get ready for it — 1993. That year, under head coach Roger “Buzz” Kirkhart, Mount Vernon went 8-2 and qualified for the state playoffs for the first time ever.
Of course, it’s too early to be talking playoffs.
First, the Jackets have to deal with perennial foe Mansfield Madison.
“Every week’s a different week,” said Mount Vernon head coach Anthony Naples. “We have one mission every week, and that’s to focus on each game, one week at a time.”
Mount Vernon showed off its wide open offense last Friday against Cambridge, something Jackets’ fans haven’t seen for years. Mount Vernon’s first play from scrimmage was a touchdown throw from Greg Briggs to Brandon Porter. Throughout the rest of the game, Briggs spread the wealth among all his eligible receivers; eight different players caught a pass.
“Briggs is doing the things we thought he could do,” said Naples. “He’s more relaxed, making good checks and making good reads.”
The Jackets effectively used the pass to set up the run. Going mainly off-tackle and end routes, sophomore J.D. Orr rushed for 144 yards on 28 carries against Cambridge. Senior Nick Rummel had 33 yards on two carries for one score.
The offense begins and ends with the job of the offensive line, which has come together well so far this season.
“No one single guy has really stood out. They play as five guys,” said Naples. “You have senior leadership in Brian Johnson, and guys like the sophomore (Alex) Curts following his lead. Nothing has shown up on tape negatively. They’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing. (Jake) Gastin and Chase (Gallagher) are working hard. (Austin) Pagani is working both ways, so he’s got it rougher than some of them.
“I don’t care if you have the New York Giants’ offensive line. You can’t have nine guys in the box. You have to open things up and make them run horizontal. Then, you attack them.”
That offensive scheme shouldn’t shift too much on Friday. Mansfield Madison (2-0) gave up 27 points to a Newark team that was shut out the previous week by Zanesville.