MOUNT VERNON — Monday marked the start of the high school football season across the state of Ohio, and like most, the Mount Vernon players were anxious to hit the field.
Mount Vernon has strong numbers so far, with over 70 players coming out this season. Part of that group includes a strong senior class, which is leading the way.
“Our senior core is probably the best it has been in a couple of years,” said senior Alec Curry. “All of the seniors are close, we’re good friends. We all have one common goal. We’re going to come out here and push our team because we want to win. That’s what we are here to do.”
Getting the opportunity to get out onto the field is a great feeling for these players. After a 1-9 season last year, this year’s team is anxious to redeem itself.
“Things are fun,” said senior Derek Baker. “We’re getting back into the swing of things. We’ve got to watch the NFL teams get back into the swing of things, and we are in the same situation as them now. We’re getting ready and we are all getting acquainted. We are fired up. We’re ready to turn this thing around, and it starts right here.”
“This has been real exciting. I’ve been waiting for this day for a really long time,” Curry said. “Since the end of last season, which was another disappointment, I’ve been wanting to get out here. We’re going to push everyone as hard as they can go because we want to win this year.”
Since last November, all eyes have been looking forward, and the team has been working on getting better. The Yellow Jackets have put in a lot of time, and Monday was just the start of an accelerated process.
“We’ve been doing workouts almost every day in the offseason,” said senior Matt Boucher. “We worked out three times a week. We just had two weeks of camp, and we’ve been putting a lot of stuff in. ... This is exciting because as a senior, you feel the fire inside of you. You know what’s going on.
“(Two-a-days) are long and tiring, and we have a lot of stuff to learn. We’ll do a lot of running, get exhausted and our feet will hurt, but it is worth it.”
One of the things coach Gary Keller did was take his team to two different 7-on-7 camps this summer. Mount Vernon competed with Bucyrus and Ashland, and both camps helped make them better.
“We did fairly well (at the 7-on-7 camps),” Boucher said. “We realized the tempo that we have to have. We did really well (at Bucyrus), and that will only help make us stronger. Then at Ashland, it was more like a practice. We got to break it down and learn from our mistakes.”
The Jackets have faith that the improvement they showed there is just the beginning of what will be displayed on the field this season.
“We’ve made a lot of improvement,” Baker said. “Our tempo in the weight room has just increased a lot. It has been a lot more enjoyable. We are a lot more like a family this year, and we all have the same goal this year. I think in the past our problem was mentality, and that has taken care of itself.”
“We’ve got a whole new offense, which I think works better for the people that we have,” said Boucher. “We have the same kind of defense, but we are stronger now. ... Our secondary knows a lot more and has a lot more experience. We also have great size on the line.”
“The thing that is different about this year is that all of the coaches are on the same page,” added Baker. “We’re having a fun time learning what they are teaching us.”
While Monday was only Day 1 of the season, it was important to get off on the right foot.
“This is just the start,” said Curry. “We’re still working toward our goal. We need to start getting down the small things. We need to not commit stupid penalties, we need to get first downs when we have the ball, and we need to score touchdowns. That was a big thing that was missing last year — scoring.
“We’re excited waiting for Saturday,” said Curry. “Right now, we are just running around in helmets. We can’t wait for Saturday.”