MOUNT VERNON — The Mount Vernon Yellow Jackets are coming off an opening week 21-12 loss on the road against Marion Harding and are looking for a stronger showing this week in the home opener against Newark.
“Obviously, the first week was disappointing on the scoreboard, but there was a lot to build on,” coach Mike Kerr said. “The biggest thing I thought stood out was our defense. Our defensive front-seven was outstanding.”
The Mount Vernon defense allowed only 14 of the 21 points Harding scored, with seven points coming off a pick-six. Harding scored in the first quarter and in the third quarter, before Mount Vernon found the end zone on a 1-yard touchdown from Joel Hubbard, followed by a 1-yard run by Wyatt Gregory. A missed PAT, along with a failed two-point conversion put the game at 14-12.
“In the second half, I was really pleased with the way our offense came out how we really want to be playing — up-tempo,” Kerr said. “We made it fast and fun again.”
The offensive change brought the Jackets close, but a pick-six with under three minutes to go sealed the deal for Harding. The interception was one of five that the Presidents came up with.
“Ball security is going to be important,” Kerr said of one thing to change this week. “We can’t turn the ball over.”
Like Kerr said, he was impressed with his defense’s effort Friday, and he hopes that production on the field carries over to this week.
“Defensively, we need a lot more of the same — setting the edge and all 11 getting to the ball,” Kerr said. “Any time that you have a great defense, as a coach, it allows you to be more open and relaxed.”
Kerr also liked the stamina and conditioning of his team, especially for a Week 1 matchup against the Presidents. He said they played through the fourth quarter and is aiming for that again Friday.
“We really pushed these guys hard in the offseason and got them in great shape and we want to be able to use that,” Kerr said.
Newark lost its first game of the year last Friday (32-27), partly due to the fourth quarter. The Wildcats outscored Zanesville 21-14 in the first quarter, before the Blue Devils trimmed the lead to 21-20 in the third quarter. Newark (0-1) was outscored 12-6 in the fourth, surrendering the game to Zanesville.
There is a bit of history between Mount Vernon and Newark. A season ago, the Jackets took the win in Newark, 31-0. In 2016, the Wildcats had the edge, 21-20. Two teams that are close in proximity and that have split the last two meeting’s, sets the stage for a solid non-conference contest.
“I know it’s on the kid’s minds, but it’s our first home game so it’s exciting,” Kerr said. “There’s a little bit of excitement, one, because of the rivalry, and two, because it’s our first home game.”