Swank on Sports




Mt Vernon Yellow Jacket High School Athletics



Mt. Vernon to be a Factor Again

Click here to listen to an interview with coach Rob Gross

Mt. Vernon won the Ohio Cardinal Conference baseball crown last year and the Yellow Jackets figure to be in the mix this spring as well.

Coach Rob Gross says they lost some players to graduation, including the player of year in the league, but they have some key returnees too, “Obviously, when you enjoy a lot of success. It was great to be able to come in and be fortunate enough to win the “OCC” last year. I’ll tell you what in sports every year is a new year. I think we have a good core group back. We lost some big time players. Player of the year Tim Zeller, who is playing at Ohio Dominican and few other guys that were important to our team last year. I hope we can compete. I know the target is on our backs so to speak,” he said.

Gross prescribes to the theory of winning breads winning and the Yellow Jackets were winners at all levels last year. “Last year was the first time in my 20 years of coaching that we won a conference title at all three levels. I think that is pretty exciting as a program and that is the first time I have ever been part of that. I always say no matter what the level is winning that conference title always helps. We do have a pretty good core group coming back. There are always guys that you have to blend in and see how we adapt to each other, but I do think that is helps us as far as confidence because we have had that success in the past,” said Gross.

Mt. Vernon will be good, but Gross knows it is going to a tremendous challenge to repeat as conference champs because the competition is going to be very good, beginning with Lexington. “I would say one team I know is going to be right there is Lexington. I look for them to be right at the top. They have quite a few guys coming back. I know they might kind of have a slow start with the guys playing basketball,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “I think this year with the way the weather has been I think everybody is going to be off to a slow start and that might kind of help Lexington a little bit. I expect Lexington to be up there, I expect Wooster to be up there, the same teams that were at the top last year will probably be the ones towards the top this year.”

Published 3/20/18

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Mt. Vernon Plays in First District Final Since early 90’s

Mt. Vernon is not exactly a cinderella, teams that win conference titles don’t deserve that label, but they are in uncharted waters.

They play in their first district title game in 25 years when they play Reynoldsburg on Saturday evening in the division one district final at Ohio Dominican University in Columbus.

They advanced with an upset of the number one seed in the district in Pickerington North (61-58) on Wednesday night at Granville High School,

Coach Nick Coon says they responded well when Pic North threw everything at them after they had an 11 point lead heading into the fourth quarter. “We made 17 out of 21 free throws and that included 12 out of 15 in the fourth quarter. When their pressure picked up and then they started fouling us and trying to make their comeback we stepped up and made some free throws when we really needed them especially. Handling the basketball against that type of pressure and then converting at the free throw line was crucial for us,” said Coon.

Mt. Vernon has 10 seniors on its team, seven who play quite at bit, and Coon says they have gained a lot of good experience. “We have been in so many games like that this year. Just being in those games doesn’t always guarantee you are always going to succeed in those games, but our kids have found a way more times than not this season and that is a credit to them being in those situations in the past and learning from them going forward to where they are calm and they no how to handle certain things that come up in a game like that,” said Coon.

Mt. Vernon (18-7) the co-winner of the Ohio Cardinal Conference plays Reynoldsburg out of the Ohio Division of the Ohio Capital Conference on Saturday night.

Coon says Reynoldsburg is athletic and they have a terrific player in Trey Williams. “They are another team from the Ohio Capital Conference, Ohio Division, they are in the same league as Pickerington North and they split with them this season. They have a tremendous team that is very well coached with good athletes and good solid size across the board. It is going to be a tremendous challenge for us. They have a 6’6” kid that plays inside and averages about 18 points a game in Trey Williams. He is one of the premier players in Central Ohio and they have some shooters to go around him,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “It is going to be a difficult game for us, but we are excited to be in the position we are in. We want to be able to compete at a high level and see what happens.”

Mt. Vernon up until two years ago had been in the Ohio Capital Conference for many years, but Coon says they don’t really have much of a history with Reynoldsburg. “I played them when I was in high school. We haven’t in the last several years has Mt. Vernon played Reynoldsburg. I know their coach really well we go pretty far back. They have are a really good program and he does a great job getting his kids ready to play and ready to compete. We are excited, we know it’s a huge challenge, but we are excited about it,” he said.

Published 3/09/18

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Mt. Vernon Shocks Pic North

Mt. Vernon basketball coach Nick Coon said earlier this week that beating top seeded Pickerington North would not be impossible, in fact, it was very possible.

The Yellow Jackets (18-7) beat Pickerington North (61-58) in the division one district tournament on Wednesday night at Granville High School.

Mt. Vernon led (24-22) at halftime and built that lead to (43-30) after three quarters and Coon says they were able to hang on down the stretch. “That is because of our kid’s belief in each other and what we are doing. We got off to a good start, which was important to us. We had a lead at halftime and we played unbelievable coming out of the half and got a nice lead. We knew they were going to rally they are just so big, athletic and talented. They scored 28 points in the fourth quarter. Somehow, we were able to hold off the furiously rally and hang on and make enough free throws to win the game,” said Coon.

Mt. Vernon made 17 of 21 free throws, 12 of 15 in the fourth quarter, and they have been a solid free throw shooting team all year.

Coon says they knew that Pick North was going to come after them in that fourth quarter and they handled the pressure. “We have played in 13 or 14 or 15 or whatever it is now close, two, three, possession type games with two or three minutes left to play, so we have been there before. I am not sure it was against the kind of talent we saw (Wednesday) night, but those situations they prepare you,” he told Swankonsports.com after the win, “You have a certain calmness about you in those situations where you have been in them over and over again. That doesn’t guarantee that you are always going to be successful or it is always going to workout for you, but it gives you a fighting chance. Credit to our kids for the poise and discipline they showed throughout the game.”

Jeffrey Rucker scored a career high 23 points for the Yellow Jackets, who shared the Ohio Cardinal Conference title with Lexington. They will play Reynoldsburg in a district final on Saturday at Ohio Dominican University. Reynoldsburg beat Westerville Central (69-48) on Wednesday.

There was a reception for the Yellow Jackets on the town square when they got home Wednesday night and Coon says that support is special to them. “We had our team bus that we took just for our kids and we had two spirit buses following us with student body kids. It was unbelievable the community support we had. Mt. Vernon from a spectator standpoint took over the gym (Wednesday) night and that was amazing to see. That is huge for us. Every little bit matters for us and we need everybody pulling the same way and now we have that,” said Coon.

He adds it’s just fun to still be practicing. “This March basketball stuff is pretty fun for us right now,” he said.

Published 3/08/18

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Mt. Vernon Plays Number One Seed

Mt. Vernon shared the title this winter in the Ohio Cardinal Conference, but they will be the underdog when they play Pickerington North in division one district tournament on Wednesday night at Granville High School.

The Yellow Jackets (19-5) beat Dublin Scioto (59-58) in overtime and Teays Valley (68-58) in their tournament games so far. Coach Nick Coon says they have been a little inconsistent. “We had stretches in both games where we played really good basketball and we also had a few moments when we had some mental lapses and some turnovers and some defensive breakdowns that allowed the last two teams to kind of stick around and be close in the end. Fortunately, we won an overtime game against Dublin Scioto in the first round and then held on to win against Teays Valley in the second game by 10 points. Like all year we have been tested and fortunately we came through when we needed to and now we get a huge challenge in front of us,” said Coon.

Pickerington North is the number one seed in the division one tournament in the Columbus area. Coon says they are athletic and they are big. “Their athleticism just jumps out. They start 6’5”, 6’7”, 6’9” in their starting lineup. Then they bring off the bench another 6’5” kid and a 6’9” kid and we just don’t typically see that kind of size and that kind of depth like they have. Their athleticism, their depth, their size really jumps out. They are talented kids,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “They have an Indiana signee in Jerome Hunter. They have another kid, Eli MacNamara, 6’9” kid going to Miami of Ohio. They have a couple of division two signees. They have a kid going on a football scholarship division one. They have athletes across the board, so it is going to be a tremendous challenge for us.”

Pick North has beaten Columbus St. Charles (54-37) and Columbus West (71-27) in their two tournament games. Coon says it will tough, but a win is not impossible. “It seems like with Pickerington North if you take the best player from several different teams we have played and put them together that is kind of Pickerington North. So, they are tremendously talented and athletic and big. It is going to be a challenge for us. It’s one game in high school. It is not a seven game series where we have to win four of seven. We have to be the better team one night in 32 minutes. That is the way we are approaching it. We know it’s a challenge. Our kids know it’s a challenge, but we know it’s not an impossible scenario, it is still high school kids we are playing against and it is one game,” said Coon.

Yes, the Yellow Jackets are the underdog and Coon says they just want to make it a game in the fourth quarter and see what happens. “We don’t talk too much about underdog or favorite or anything we just prepare for each game as it comes along and this game has been the same. Everyone knows Pickerington North is the favorite. They are the number seed in a very good division one central district tournament for a reason. We have had a good year and we don’t want it to end no matter who that is against. So, we are going to give our best effort and hopefully have a chance to win the game late and continue on,” he said.

Published 3/07/18

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A Win Means Outright Title for Mt. Vernon

A win on Friday night at Lexington and the Mt. Vernon Yellow Jackets are the outright winners of the Ohio Cardinal Conference title, if they lose they will share it with the Minutemen and maybe Mansfield Senior.

Mt. Vernon comes in carrying a nine game winning streak.

Coach Nick Coon says he believes his team is continuing to get better. “It is an exciting time of the year and we talk to our kids all of time that this time of the year teams are doing one of two things they are either getting better or they are getting worse and trying to get on to their next sport or next activity. We believe our kids are still trying to get better each day in practice and going about our business the right way and staying focused on our task. We have a big task in front of us with Lexington at Lexington. We know that, we know it is a big challenge, but we are excited for it,” said Coon.

Lexington (16-5,8-3), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, beat Wooster (60-55) in a league game last Friday and then handed Ottawa-Glandorf (54-53) their first loss of the season on Saturday. “Since we played them, which wasn’t that long ago, they have won four in a row. That Ottawa-Glandorf game kind of raises your eyebrows when you see that game. That was great for Lexington and coach Hamilton, but great for our conference as well for that recognition,” Coon said.

Coon says junior forward Cade Stover is very good, but you can not neglect the other Minutemen. “Cade Stover, obviously, is their guy, he attracts so much attention and rightfully so. It is the other guys and their maturity that has rounded out their team and made them really affective, especially here in the second half of the year. Their junior class getting that exposure around Cade Stover has been big for them,” he said.

Mt. Vernon (15-5,9-2), #1 in our poll, won the first game (67-57) on January 30 at their place.

The perimeter shooting the Minutemen have been getting makes them more difficult to defend, according to Coon. “We had some trouble the first time around guarding all of their guys and Stover was able to get some easy buckets against us. Fortunately, in the second half we made it a little more difficult on him and did a little bit of a better job of forcing contested shots from the other guys,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “It is a tough task they are a very talented team and we are going to have to be alert about who were are guarding and where we guarding them on the floor at all times to make it tough on them.”

Another key for the Yellow Jackets, says Coon, is they have to keep Lexington off the offensive glass. “If not the best, they are definitely one of the best offensive rebounding teams we have seen this year. I think they average about 12 and half offensive rebounds a game, which is a really big number. For us, we have to do a good job of blocking out and rebounding the basketball because that can lead us into transition offense and transition offense is big for us to pick up some easy buckets here and there, so it is not a slug fest in the half court the whole entire game,” said Coon.


Published 2/15/18

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Mt. Vernon Excited

A win Tuesday night over Ashland gave a share of the Ohio Cardinal Conference boys’ basketball title and they have a chance to have it to themselves next week.

They beat Ashland (56-48) and lead Lexington, Wooster and Mansfield Senior by a game. Wooster is at Lexington on Friday, while Mansfield Senior hosts Ashland.

Mt. Vernon coach Nick Coon says it feels good. “Our program has come a long way in the last three years from where we were when our coaching staff took over. It is no accident to be in a position to win a championship. Ultimately, we got that done because our kids put in time. They have bought in to what we have tried to put in place and they have been committed to it and committed to each other. It is great to see for our kids now and also for our program moving forward,” he said.

They do not play on Friday, their final “OCC” game of the season is at Lexington next Friday. Coon says it is kind of good to have this little break. “I think we are fortunate that we were able to clinch at least a share on Tuesday and this week we don’t have another league game, so we have our focus on our senior day to honor our seniors, a tremendous group of kids. Then we can have some time to come off this little high we have and get refocused and go into Lexington with the mindset to focus on that game and make sure we play those guys as tough as we can because it is going to be a heck of a challenge,’ he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We know Lexington is in a position to where if they take care of business Friday they would be gunning for a share of that league championship as well. We know it is going to be a challenge as it has been every game for us this year. We have to continue to prepare the right way and get ready to compete at a high level.”

Mt. Vernon (14-5), #1 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, winners of eight in a row and 11 of their last 12, plays at home against New Albany in non-league play on Saturday. Coon says that is not a game they can look past. “New Albany has a good basketball tradition. Their coach Sam Davis has done a tremendous job of building that program from when they were a small division three school to now a prominent member of the Ohio Capital Conference. They are a little down record wise this year, but there is still talent there. They have some big kids, some athletic kids, some guards that can shoot the ball, so it is going to be a challenge for us on Saturday, but we are looking forward to honoring our seniors and hopefully sending them out the right way in their last regular season home game.”

Published 2/09/18

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Mt. Vernon Meets Lexington

Mt. Vernon just moved in a share of the Ohio Cardinal Conference lead with a win at Mansfield Senior last Friday, but there is no rest as the Yellow Jackets host Lexington, also in a share of first, on Tuesday night in another critical “OCC” game with league title ramifications.

The Yellow Jackets (11-5,6-2), #2 in the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, beat Mansfield Senior (50-48) last Friday and then followed that up with a nice non-conference win over Columbus DeSales (65-61) on Saturday.

Coach Nick Coon says they were able to play well late of both nights. “It was two similar type games where we got down a little bit early and had to keep fighting back and clawing back and our kids never gave in and kept battling and eventually for a way to take the lead late and somehow hold on to win the game. So, two good wins for our program and we are looking forward to a really good game against Lexington, a good program, well coached team and obviously one of the premier players in the area and our league with Cade Stover,” said Coon.

Lexington (12-4,5-2), #1 in our poll, are led by junior Cade Stover, who just scored his 1,000 point of his career 10 days ago. Coon says they must make Stover earn his points. “He is going to take a lot of shots. He is a big part of what they do. We know that. We just have to make it as difficult as we can and force him into tough shots and not give him easy buckets or allow him to get to the free throw line and get shots that we can’t defend,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “It is going to be big for us to keep him in front of us and make him shoot over and try and do our best to block out and rebound because he is an awful good rebounder as well.”

Lexington also has quality shooters like Ben Vore and Kyle Johnston. Coon says you can’t lose contact with those guys either. “Their junior class is really good. They have a lot of guys that can do some things playing off of Cade. He gets a lot of attention, but those other guys have really come along. They are playing some really good basketball. Obviously, Stover is a big reason why, but those guys are also a big reason why they have been successful and have won a lot of games already,” he said.

Defense might be a key to this game and Coon says they have to keep the Minutemen off the glass. “I think early in the year some teams were scoring on them. Coach Hamilton has righted the ship on the defensive end with their guys and I think it has been more of an emphasis. First of the all, they have good athletes and that helps as a base. Their focus looks to be better at the defensive end of the court. They have kids that can move. They clean up the glass. It is one of the best rebounding teams we have seen this year and definitely one of the best in our league. It is going to be big for us to get quality shots when we can and if we can pick up some offensive rebounds here there hopefully that can help us get some points on the board,” said Coon.

Published 1/30/18

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Mt. Vernon Can Move into First Place

Mt. Vernon trails Mansfield Senior by just a game in the Ohio Cardinal Conference standings and they play at Pete Henry Gym on Friday night with a chance to move into a share of first place.

The Yellow Jackets (9-5,5-2) have won six of their last seven, including their last four league games.

Coach Nick Coon says the they have been better on both sides of the ball. “It has kind of been a combination of things. We kind of settled into some lineups. Offensively we have played with a little bit better pace and better spacing as we have gotten deeper into the year. Defensively, we have started to buckled down when we have needed to. Some of that is just playing harder and with more focus. It is amazing what will happen when you do those two things,” he said.

Mt. Vernon has a lot of seniors and Coon says they are playing like they don’t want their season to end. “We seem to have that going right now. Our seniors understand that it is winding down for them with a month and a half or so and it could be all done for them. We have talked to our group about having a lot seniors can be a really good thing of it could go the other way as well. We hit a rough stretch early in the year with a four game losing streak, but besides that little stretch and a blip on the radar for the most part our group has hung together. They are really good kids and it makes for an enjoyable year,” said Coon.

Mansfield Senior (9-4,7-1), #1 the Swankonsports.com boys’ basketball coaches poll in the large school division, beat Mt. Vernon (52-49) on December 22. They beat Lexington (60-52) and West Holmes (48-39) in league games last week.

Coon says they are athletic and quick and they never stop coming after you. “Their relentless pressure defensively really jumps out. We saw that first hand early in the year. Their quickness and they have a lot of guys that can get to the rim or set up their teammates for easy scores. Their athleticism and their quickness and their effort against us in the first game and games I have seen in tape is just non stop,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Coach Sykes has done a really good job instilling that with them and instilling some discipline with them that they are playing with. They are having a really good year and it is going to be a tremendous challenge, especially at their place.”

Coon and his players know this is a great opportunity for them. “We are fortunate to be in this spot to that this game does mean something in the standings since we have picked up some wins, but we are still approaching it the same way we always do, which means we have to get better each day in practice before we even get to that game. We are sticking to kind of a process that we believe in and our kids know what it takes for us to be prepared. We are not a juggernaut by any means, so we have to be at our best to be able to compete and have a chance to win games,” said Coon.

Published 1/24/18

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Mt. Vernon Finishes With Big Play West Holmes

Mt. Vernon plays its final game of the 2017 season on Friday night at West Holmes in Ohio Cardinal Conferenced play.

The Yellow Jackets held a (10-0) lead last week against Mansfield Senior, but they ended up losing the game (44-17) in “OCC” action.

Coach Mike Kerr says they have had trouble sustaining things all season long. “It is unfortunate and that has kind of been the way of a lot of games this year. We get off and we do a lot of good stuff and then we are just not able to hold on and finish games,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Obviously, that has been a point of focus, but it is something we are still working on and still learning, a lot of good things came out of Friday’s game. Hopefully, the kids took away something that was positive and hopefully we can learn from it going forward.”

Mt. Vernon (3-6,2-3) is on the road to Millersburg to face the West Holmes Knights (3-6,2-3) on Friday night. The Knights played in an exciting game last week, losing to conference leader Ashland (49-48) in a shootout. They went for two inside the final minute and were denied.

Kerr says they get the ball into the hands of guys that can make plays. “They are explosive on offense. I kind of see when I am looking at them a team that is kind of finding its identity. It is a team that is able to get the ball to playmakers. They are exciting to watch. Not exciting to prepare for, but they are exciting to watch,” he said.

West Holmes has been making a lot of big plays over the last month. Kerr says they need to stop that Friday night. “That is definitely a focus of ours. Keeping them in front and allowing pursuit to get there and stopping the big play. It seems every time I am watching them they are making a 70, 80 yard play. We have to rally to the ball and get all 11 guys there. All of the same things that you always do. We really have to focus at keeping them in front and not allowing the big play,” said Kerr.

Published 10/25/17

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Yellow Jackets Face Athletic Mansfield Senior

Mt. Vernon hopes to build on a solid performance last week as they host Mansfield Senior in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game on Friday night.

A week ago, the Yellow Jackets (3-5,2-2) scored 48 points in the first half and went on to pound Madison (62-20) in an “OCC” game.

Coach Mike Kerr says they made some adjustments to their offensive game plan the week before against Wooster and it really paid some dividends against Madison last Friday. “We had switch some things up and had showed some flashes the week before against Wooster. I think we cleaned a lot of that up against Madison on Friday night. The kids really bought in and executed really well on Friday,” he said.

Sometimes it can be difficult to make changes late in the season no matter how minor or how needed, but Kerr says his kids understand and bought into to those changes. “It takes that buy in from the kids. I think it was a needed change. We were doing some good things on offense before, but there was the need to tweak it a little bit. We have added a couple of wrinkles to it. The kids really got excited about it and bought into it. I think it has been a great thing for the program down the stretch,” he said.

Mansfield Senior (6-2,3-1) is a game behind “OCC” leader Ashland and must have a win to have chance to share of the “OCC” title. They put themselves in that position with a come from behind (28-21) win at Wooster last week.

Kerr says the Tygers are athletic, but they are much more than that too. He says they are well coached. “They are just athletic from top to bottom. They can really run and get after you. You look at their number of explosive plays, plays that go for over 60, 70 yards, it is just amazing. Defensively they fly all around. It is tough to get anything on them because they are so fast getting to the ball. I think sometimes what gets overlooked is how well coached they are,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “They block really well up front. They tackle very well in the back. They do all of those little things. A lot of times you just see the athleticism and get amazed by that, but not only are they athletic they are really well coached too.”

Published 10/20/17

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Mt. Vernon Building on Positives

Mt. Vernon plays host to Mansfield Madison in an Ohio Cardinal Conference football game on Friday night.

It’s the eighth week of the season and really this is a game that is all about pride.

Mt. Vernon (2-5,1-2) lost to Wooster in an “OCC” game (45-21) last week.

Coach Mike Kerr says they played well at times and they have some positive things to build on. “I thought the game was a lot closer than the score indicated. We gave some up a little early and got behind and then we battled back. We had a chance to really cut into the lead and couldn’t score. They broke off a 99-yard quarterback sneak that really iced the game. Honestly, there was a lot coming out of there that we did well that we can build on,” he said.

He says they did a lot of good things last week and they hope to be able to continue to grow as a team. “Obviously after every film there are things you want to fix. Things that you didn’t do well and things you have to get better at, but if you look at it and really dissect it there are a lot positives that we have to build on with the kids and say hey look we are still right there we just have to do these few things a little bit better,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “I thought offensively we moved the ball really well. We had over 400 yards of offense. There are some things there we can really build on.”

Madison (0-7,0-3) lost last week (45-21) to Columbus St. Charles in a non-conference game. They have suffered through a lot of problems, especially on defense this year.

They have played Mason Campbell at quarterback the last two weeks and Kerr says that has made a difference for them. “They have put him back there to kind of run the ball and they are doing a nice job with that. They have had some bad luck here and there, but if you look they have been up on a lot teams. They were up on Ashland early. They are up early and just not able to finish. I kind of feel they are similar to us in that we have had some leads and are not able to finish. I think they are better than their record indicates. The change at quarterback has done great things for them. They are trending in the right direction,” said Kerr.

Published 10/10/17

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Mt. Vernon Tries to Get Back on Track

Mt. Vernon was shutout last week in non-conference play and they need to get the win Friday night at Wooster to stay in the Ohio Cardinal Conference race.

The Yellow Jackets (2-4,1-1) trail tri-leaders Ashland, Mansfield Senior and Wooster by a game.

Last week, they were beaten by Hilliard Darby (31-0) and coach Mike Kerr says some early execution mistakes led to their downfall. “We were disappointed how things turned out at Darby. We got the ball and drove it right down the field. We had a mistake on a field goal and another mistake on a punt, we allowed a punt return for a touchdown. Again, these little mistakes, especially early on, and then it just piled on from there. It is hopefully a learning experience, something we can all learn from and get better from,” said Kerr.

Wooster (3-3,3-0) lost their three non-league games to start the season, but are unbeaten in the league after a (50-22) win over West Holmes last week.

Kerr says they have definitely turned their season around. “I think most people outside of it were surprised when they went 0-3, I was, and then they have kind of turned it around. That is another great coaching staff. Those kids respond to that. They have done a really good job. We have watched film on them. They really get after it and are aggressive,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “On both sides of the ball they have some really good athletes. So, it was just a matter of time before they turned it around. They definitely have the ball rolling right now.”

Wooster has lost running back Trey Mathis for the season to injury. However, Kerr says they have rebuilt there are offense and can do some scary things with the ball in their hands. “I think maybe early on they were trying to figure that out and what their identity was going to be a little bit. They have figured that out. Their quarterback is solid, he is really good. He extends plays and keeps plays alive. I think they have kind of put the ball in his hands a little bit more than they probably would have if everybody was healthy. Again, they are finding their identity and getting more confidence every week, especially on offense,” said Kerr.

Published 10/05/17

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Mt. Vernon Faces Triple Option

Mt. Vernon is making steps toward becoming a good football team and that was evident even in a loss to the Ashland Arrows last week in Ohio Cardinal Conference action.

They play Hilliard Darby in non-conference play on Friday night. They used to be in the same division of the Ohio Capital Conference.

Mt. Vernon held a fourth quarter lead last week and coach Mike Kerr saw a lot of good things from his players. “I think there was a lot of good. We were up with eight minutes to go in the fourth quarter. We got down early and our kids never quit. We clawed back and got it to 21-20 and really had some momentum. Like we have talked about before one or two plays can really swing a game. We thought we had made that play and then they converted a big third and 30 on us and the momentum swings again and we weren’t able to recover from that. It was a great game,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Ashland, obviously, is a great football team, and we were right there. Just a few plays here and there and we win that football game and those are the things we have go to fix.”

Mt. Vernon has started to become a more consistent team on offense. Kerr says they have tweaked some things. “I think the offense has evolved. We have got some pieces and we starting to use them a little differently and I think the kids have responded. We have kind gone away from some of the stuff we started with, we are still basically the same, but we have put a little more responsibility on the quarterback to read and make adjustments at the line and things like that. I think that has really given him some freedom. I think the kids are playing a little freer on offense. I am really excited about the direction the offense is going and hopefully it continues for the next five weeks,” he said.

Mt. Vernon (2-3) travels to Darby (2-3) on Friday. They lost (21-0) to Dublin Jerome last week.

Kerr says you know what you are getting with the Panthers. “I watched film in them and they are the same Darby that you see each and every year. They are that triple option on offense. Their offensive line comes flying low and hard. They are well taught on offense. They know how to read it and what to do. Defensively the same thing. They are in that four man front like they have been in for years. They know exactly where they are supposed to be at all times. They are just a well coached football team. The kids play hard for those guys. I could watch this year’s film, last year’s film or the year before and you see the same team doing the same stuff. It is really a credit to what those guys do over there,” said Kerr.

Published 9/27/17

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Mt. Vernon Challenges Ashland

Mt. Vernon is a pretty good football team that not many people are talking about. They will start if they win this week.

They play host to Ashland in an Ohio Cardinal Conference game on Friday night.

Last week, they stopped a Lexington two point conversion with just over a minute to play and beat the Minutemen (15-13) in a league game.

Coach Mike Kerr says their defense really did an excellent job. “Our kids really played well and played hard with great effort and really maintained focus through the game. When it came down to it our defense made a couple of huge plays and helped us though that game. We are really happy right now,” he said.

The Yellow Jackets (2-2,1-0) are really pretty close to being unbeaten having lost to Marion Harding at the horn (14-10) and to Buckeye Valley (17-9) on week three.

Kerr says they need to keep getting better. “I told our kids we are three or four plays from being 4-0. It is all about learning and learning from our mistakes and not making the same mistakes again. It is a few plays here or there that go one way or the other and that is really what has separated us in all these games,” he told Swankonsports.com on Tuesday, “Luckily on Friday night we were able to make those plays where against Buckeye Valley or Marion Harding we didn’t make those plays. That is part of growing up. I am really proud of our kids and proud of where we are. I think we will just continue to get better and clean those things up.”

Ashland (3-1,0-0), #4 in the Swankonsports.com football coaches poll in the large school division, beat Uniontown Lake (21-7) last week. Their only loss comes to unbeaten Clyde (22-19) on week two,

Kerr says they are very good. “They are pretty impressive as they normally are. They are always well coached. You know they know what they are doing. They have some pretty special athletes. A 6’6’”, 6’5” throwing the ball up and they are running the ball a little bit more this year and that defense is really getting after it. We are really impressed with them on film, they look really good,” he said.

Ashland runs the empty backfield, five wide offense, and Kerr says they try to get you in one on one situations and if that happens they have to make the plays. “That is what’s tough about their system and a lot of the systems these days is they try and get you into those one on one match-ups. I think our kids are pretty confident in those. We have worked on that since day one. We know that is the direction that football is going and you have to be able to make those plays. Those are the defining plays of the game lots of times. If our kid makes that tackle we might win. If their kid makes our guy miss they probably win. It’s a tough battle, but our kids are excited about the challenge. We are looking forward to it. We have a lot of confidence going in, but also understanding it is a big task ahead of us,” said Kerr.

Published 9/20/17

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Mt. Vernon Must Contain Stover

Mt. Vernon plays its first game as an official football playing school in the Ohio Cardinal Conference on Friday night as they host the Lexington Minutemen, the defending league co-champ.

The Yellow Jackets (1-2) lost last week to Buckeye Valley (17-9) and coach Mike Kerr says it was a game they could have easily won with a little better execution. “We had a few chances in that game. If we executed a couple of different ways, a couple of different plays here and there, we probably win that football game. We try and tell our kids we are only a few plays away from being 3-0, but that is why those little things are important,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday, “We have to execute every play. The defense played outstanding. At halftime, we had given up three points, so in six quarters we had given up six points. Then they kind of got out on us a little bit in the second half by running the football. I thought we had done a nice job, but they were able to kind of handle that a little bit.”

Kerr believes they are just about ready to turn the corner and become a good football team. “I think we are a good football team and our kids are just learning how to win. They are learning that every play is important and every practice is important. It takes those things to beat a good football team. I think we are going to be. I believe in these kids. I think they are great group of kids and we have some great leadership. They are just learning to win and once we understand it takes that sustained effort we are going to be a good football team,” said Kerr.

Lexington (1-2) won its first last week with a (48-35) win over Orrville in non-conference play. They had lost to Ontario (21-20) on week one and Shelby (41-7) on week two.

Kerr says Cade Stover is a big time athlete and the Minutemen have some strength on the offensive and defensive lines. “Those kids are so well coached and know where they are supposed to be on both sides of the ball. Obviously, the Stover kid is a heck of an athlete and he is kind of the one guy that we see that jumps out. They have some other kids, especially their offensive and defensive lines, we are impressed with them. It is going to be the team that makes the least mistakes is probably going to be the team that wins on Friday night,” said Kerr.

When it comes to defensing Stover, Kerr says you have to keep in front of you and don’t lose containment. “We have been focused on that in practice all week that this kid is a heck of an athlete. He is still learning to play quarterback, so he doesn’t always see the reads in the passing game, but he is always a threat, so we can’t take a play off or lose coverage. Even when he does make plays back there and if teams lose coverage he will throw it 30, 40 yards. We have to be real disciplined and we have to keep him in front of us all night. He is a heck of an athlete and a big, strong kid. We have been focused on knowing where he is at all times and never giving up on a play because we know he won’t give up on a play,” said Kerr.

Published 9/14/17

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Mt. Vernon Picks it up

Mt. Vernon turned it around last week and blanked Newark with excellent play on both sides of the ball and special teams.

The Yellow Jackets destroyed Newark (31-0) and they play at Buckeye Valley of the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference in non-league play on Friday night.

After a tough loss to Marion Harding (14-10) on week one, losing with less than 10 seconds on the clock, coach Mike Kerr says they played much better in all three phases of the game last week and it showed on the scoreboard. “We talked a lot about eliminating mistakes and just making sure that we didn’t beat ourselves. Not just both sides of the ball, but also special teams. I thought the kids responded and I think they played well both offensively and defensively and our special teams took a big step forward too. I was really proud of all three phases of the game,” he said.

Shutouts are hard to produce in high school football unless you are just a lot better than the opponent. Kerr says his kids on the defensive side of the ball take a lot of pride in what they do. “Our Defense really takes pride in what they do. They are a tight knit group and they hold each other accountable and they really get after it. It’s a fun group to coach and they are playing really well right now at a high level. It does give us a lot of confidence going forward and a lot of excitement. They see a challenge in front of them to keep this going, so I am excited to see where it heads,” he said.

Mt. Vernon plays at Buckeye Valley (1-1,) who is coming off a (37-6) win over Bexley last week to even its record.

Kerr says the Barons are very physical and have an excellent running game that they are going to have to try and contain. “They are obviously big and strong. I think they might be the most physical team we have seen and that would include our scrimmages and everything. Up front on both sides of the ball they really come off the ball hard and our strong kids. Their running back might be the best one we’ll see. He is really good. So, we have to contain him,” he told Swankonsports.com on Monday, “Defensively they are really sound in everything they do. They don’t blitz a lot or anything like that. Those kids know exactly where they are supposed to be and they are there all of the time. We have to make sure we do a good job of maintaining blocks and hopefully winning a few one on one match-ups.

Published 9/05/17

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Yellow Jackets Have to Get to the Perimeter

Mt. Vernon has to find a way to use their athletes as they play at Newark in a non-conference game on Friday night.

Last week, Marion Harding completed a TD pass with four seconds left and beat Mt. Vernon (14-10) in the opener for both.

Yellow Jackets coach Mike Kerr says really they just made too many mistakes to win the football game. “It was a tough one, it really was. We did a lot of good stuff, but we just had too many mistakes and eventually those mistakes caught up with us. We were hoping we could hang on for about four more seconds, but eventually those mistakes caught up with us. It was a heartbreaking loss, it really was,” he told Swankonsports.com on Thursday, “We thought we at times did enough to win, but when you make that many mistakes you are going to put yourself in a position that you don’t need to be in and it came back to bite us. We have been focusing this week on cleaning up those mistakes and looking forward to getting together with Newark this Friday.”

Kerr says the kids were disappointed they didn’t win, but there was no pouting in practice this week. He says they got down to business. “We have a lot to improve and it exposed a lot of mistakes that we made. Now we are aware of them and we can correct those things. I think we have this week. I think we have really come in with the sense of we know what we need to do now. So, we have had a great week of practice. Our kids have really bought in. The kids aren’t hanging their heads at all they have worked extremely hard. So, I think they are ready to get this thing turned around,” he said.

Newark lost to Zanesville (23-19) last week in their first game.

Kerr says the Blue Devils are a physical team at the point of attack and they have to find a way to get some of their athletes to the perimeter in hopes of making big plays. “They are always very physical. They are huge up front, both offensively and defensively. They have that running back that is about 214 yards shy of breaking the school record, so he is quite the dynamic playmaker. Defensively they bring a lot of pressure, so we have to handle that. We just have to handle them up front and get the ball on the edges and get the ball to our playmakers I think we have a real chance,” said Kerr.

Published 9/01/17

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Mt. Vernon Gets First Tournament Win


          Mt. Vernon, the Ohio Cardinal Conference champion, opened up tournament play in division one in the central district, with an (11-6) win at home against Worthington Kilbourne on Wednesday night.

          They will now play Olentangy in district play next Tuesday.

          This is Mt. Vernon’s first year in the Ohio Cardinal Conference.  They were members of the other “OCC” the Ohio Capital Conference and coach Rob Gross says they are familiar with their opponents.  “We had kind of flip flopped our schedule.  In the past we had played Madison and Lexington and all of them, so now we scheduled the New Albany’s and the Hilliard Darby’s that way we could get noticed a little bit and obviously play some of that competition.  The funny thing is playing Kilbourne (Wednesday) night they were actually in our conference last year and Olentangy that now we play Tuesday they were in our conference last year.  I think in a way that is good for the kids, especially guys that we on varsity last year because they do recognize some of the kids and are familiar with the schools,” said Gross.

          On Wednesday, the Yellow Jackets (19-3), #3 in the Swankonsports.com baseball coaches poll in the large school division, scored eight times in the bottom half of the first inning.  Gross says when you do that kind of thing early in the game it takes the pressure off.  “Some of it you can attest to good pitching over the last week with Clear Fork and the cold weather and those kinds of things.  It was nice to respond.  We didn’t play our best game the other night against West Holmes.  We were actually down 2-0 in the game against Kilbourne (Wednesday) night and we came out and responded and put up an eight spot on the bottom of the first inning.  That helps in a tournament game to kind of settle everybody down,” he said.

          One of thing about these Yellow Jackets is they don’t get tense and Gross says they know how to win.  “I am proud of our guys.  Respond is a term that I have used all year.  There have been a lot of games, I can think of both Clear Fork games, a Lexington game, just in the last couple of weeks where we have been down and our guys don’t seem to panic,” he told Swankonsports.com on Wednesday night, “They just kind of stay with the approach that our pitchers are going to keep us in the game and just give us a chance.  We have kind of been a team for the most part, I would say three fourths of our games, that we tend to have one big inning.  Sometimes that is good, but sometimes when we get that big lead you can let off the gas.  We actually did it (Wednesday) we got 11 runs in the first couple of innings and just kind of sat on it.  I am not going to complain about scoring that many runs.”


Published 5/11/17

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