After enduring a postseason drought that lasted from 2010 through 2015, the Mount Vernon football program has been in the Georgia High School Association Class A Private state playoffs each of the past three seasons.
The Mustangs won eight contests in 2018 and advanced to the second round of the postseason. Mount Vernon is back on the practice field ready to build on this success for 2019.
“We’ve had a good summer,” Mustangs coach Wayne Dabbs said. “We have a great group of seniors and the leadership has been good. Everyone has worked hard and knows what the expectations are. They know what the schedule looks like and how hard it will be. Guys have been consistent this summer in preparations for the upcoming season.”
Mount Vernon has lost the services of nine seniors from last season due to graduation, but do return several key contributors starting with junior quarterback Blake Kytle, who threw for 2,664 yards and 25 touchdowns in 2018.
“We did lose some key seniors that helped our young roster,” Dabbs said. “Blake had really good playmakers around him, but they have graduated. This presents new opportunities for younger players that were backups last year. Were excited about that. Blake now has the opportunity to be a leader. He’s played in big games and been a great vocal leader and leads by example as well. He’ll be ready to go this year and primed to have a big season.”
Junior Andrew Douglas will be a main target for Kytle after catching four TD passes last season. Senior Jonathan Hammonds will transition from offensive lineman to tight end for the Mustangs. Other contributors on offense will be seniors Alex Holiday, Parker Carman and Skylar Stefaniak-Earley at receiver.
“Andrew had a really good summer and had worked hard,” Dabbs said. “Jonathan has been our best offensive lineman the past few years, but now the line has gotten bigger and stronger with depth. That allows Jonathan to play tight end and (he’s) done well for us. Our seniors have been in the system for years but just haven’t had the opportunity until now.”
Mount Vernon returns veteran linemen that will play on both offense and defense, starting with seniors Bijan Nikain, Max Stevens and Bennett Williams, along with juniors Hunter Smith and Erik Dodder.
“All of these guys have played three to four years for us and been in our system,” Dabbs said. “We’re excited about the work they’ve put in this offseason and the shape they’re in.”
The defense returns senior Alex Mette and Smith at linebacker. “Both guys are super athletic and strong,” Dabbs said. The secondary includes senior Alex Vanlandingham, Douglas and Carman.
“Preparing for the year has been a great opportunity to see the younger players grow and getting back with the seniors,” Hammond said. “We’ve been working hard this offseason dedicating ourselves to get ready for the year. The coaching staff has been a big part of the group. We’re family and that’s what has made us work hard.”
The Mustangs’ winning tradition looks to continue with a group that has been at the forefront of the program’s move towards success.
“Our juniors and seniors are part of a group that’s used to winning and being in the playoffs playing in big games,” Dabbs said. “That always helps getting kids interested in the program. I’m proud of our staff, but the kids should get all of the credit building our culture of making Mount Vernon a tough team to beat.”