Mount Vernon tries to rebound after 2-8 record
By RANDY SHORTNACY | News-Telegram Correspondent
Aug. 30, 2007 - MOUNT VERNON - The question in Mount Vernon is can the Tigers regroup after a 2-8 season last year? The answer is just this if the Tigers get out there week in and week out and play football then anything can happen. Mount Vernon brings back 12 lettermen back from the 2006 season and have experience on both sides of the ball.
Coach Charles Swann will be the first to tell you "we don't have any superstars on this team, just kids that love to play the game of football." So with that being said the Purple Tigers are regrouping and could play spoiler to some teams season.
Junior Christian Butler will be calling the signals for the Tigers. Butler has had two successful seasons for Mount Vernon's junior varsity team and looks to bring a spark to the Purple Tigers' offense.
"Christian has done well. He is still a little shaky under center, but the more reps he gets the smoother his play will become." said Swann. Butler is 6-foot even and weighs 170 pounds and the right-hander runs a 5.0 in the 40.
Mount Vernon will have experience in other positions as well, starting with the offense. Neal Blevins is back to anchor the offensive line for the Tigers. Blevins, at 6" 2' and 210 pounds, will hold down the center position. Luke Henry returns this season to hold down the right side of the line at tackle. Henry has worked hard in the off-season to become a better blocker and Swann believes his hard work has paid off. Joining Henry on the offensive line will be returning offensive lineman Philip Alston, who has improved his strength over the off-season and will be called upon to catch the blind side for Butler.
With the graduation of Chris Bonner, the Tigers are looking for a big-play wide receiver and A. J. Rockwell looks to be the one that can turn in that big play and could be Butler's primary target. Either way you slice it, on the offense big plays will have to be made for Mount Vernon to stay in the hunt.
The Tigers will be relying on their defense to keep them in the thick of things and that is not a bad thing. Mount Vernon is deeper on the defensive side of the ball and the old adage is that defense is what wins games.
With few adjustments made this season it could be a big story. Eric Newsome, who played linebacker last season for Mount Vernon has now been moved to the nose guard position, will play a major role in the run stop defense. Newsome is just quick enough to stay in opponents' backfields and knows the importance of keeping offensive lineman off his linebackers.
The Linebacking corps, led by Stanley Woods, could be one of the most underestimated. Woods (6-1, 205) will use his 4.9 speed to control the defense and will get help from Blake Powell. The Tigers also have experience coming back in the defensive backfield with Jordan Mayes returning, and look for Austin Sparks to contribute to pass coverage as well.
Mount Vernon will have a tough preseason to get them prepared for one of the toughest districts in Class 3A with defending state champion Liberty-Eylau. The Tigers open their season up against Brownsboro, which is coming off a 10-4 record and regional final berth last season.
The Tigers again will have the opportunity to play at a neutral site as they will travel to Jack Murphy Stadium in Gladewater on a Thursday night to play the Buffalo Bison which was where Mount Vernon picked up their first win of the season last year.
Of course a season would not be complete without the classic Mount Vernon and Winnsboro matchup which will take place in Wood County this year in Week 3. The Red Raiders were bi-district finalists last season after dropping to Class 2A and head Coach Steve Pinnell has his team in the preseason top 25 sitting at No. 24.
Mount Vernon will round out their preseason with Mineola in Week 4 and the Rains Wildcats in Week 5. Rest assured that by the time the Purple Tigers reach loop play they will be ready and look for big things to happen.