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2014 Boys Soccer Preview: Mt. Vernon

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Coach: Aaron Britt, 6th season

2013: 12-4-3, 5-1 Hoosier Heritage Conference. Lost 2-1 (14-13 penalty kicks) to Greenfield-Central in sectional championship

Key players:

Matt Powell/12/M

Jacob Thomas/12/F

Jacob Fontaine/12/D

Braxton Ratekin/12/D

Dylan Griffey/12/F

Bobby Clone/12/F

Brayton Pyles/12/D

Devin Nelson/11/M

Jarret Whitehouse/10/M

Jeff Boxberger/10/D

Seth Luke/10/M

Matt Schafer/10/M/D

Logan Brandon/12/F

Outlook: MoKo is out of eligibility, but that doesn’t mean Mt. Vernon will be scraping for wins – there’s a reason this program has averaged nearly 12 victories per campaign over the past four years, and it’s the fluid depth the Marauders have created.

So despite losing Mouhamed Konate and his list of impressive accomplishments – most career points (177) and goals (77) in Hancock County history; single-season MV goal-scoring record (28) – the black-and-gold will look to press on with contributions from returning players, a handful of fourth-years getting their first chance and an influx of talent from a one-loss JV team.

“Our strength is going to be our balance. We are 15-16 deep and we can play all over the field,” Mt. Vernon coach Aaron Britt said. “On top of the quality on the field we have a bunch of great guys who just love being out there and playing together and for each other.”

Aside from Konate, the departed include All-Hoosier Heritage Conference defenders Jacob Luke and Rhyan Woods, who anchored a defense that notched eight shutouts in 19 matches. Also gone are All-HHC Honorable Mention selections midfielder/defender Shane DeWael, midfielder Aaron Gilpin and keeper Logan Justus. The first two graduated, and Justus is strictly playing football after pulling double duty last fall.

Among the returnees is All-HHC midfielder Matthew Powell (nine goals, six assists) plus a pair of all-conference honorable mention designees in forward Jacob Thomas (four goals, eight assists – second on team, fourth in county) and defender Braxton Ratekin.

Defender Jacob Fontaine tallied five goals and six assists last year.

Britt is looking for players across the roster to raise their games in wake of massive play-making loss of Konate, who also had a team-high 10 assists in 2013.

“We will be playing a different system with very different personnel and I think the goals will come as a result of the new system,” he said. “Jake Thomas, Dylan Griffey and Bobby Clone will play some role there, (and) Matt Powell will be creating with Devin Nelson, Seth Luke, Jarret Whitehouse and others. We will generate opportunities and I feel we have a very strong technical group who will capitalize.”

At keeper, Britt hasn’t decided whether junior Luke Yeadon and sophomore Josh Powell will get the job. Yeadon played 150 minutes last year in relief of the starter Justus.

As for last fall’s brutal 2-1 (14-13 penalty kicks) loss in the sectional final to Greenfield-Central – a setback that robbed the Marauders of back-to-back sectional championships – Britt prefers to remember the squad’s blazing 10-0 squad start that cemented their standing with the better outfits in Class 2A.

“We had a really solid team and were ranked for most of the year. We had a great time,” he said. “The end of the year and losing in (extended penalty kicks) isn’t something that I really think much of. It’s kind of a fluke thing that happens and if you let it get to that point, then that’s what happens – someone is obviously happy and someone is disappointed, but (there’s) not much control of the outcome at that point either way.”

Kickoff: Mt. Vernon opened its 2014 campaign Monday with a 3-0 win at Richmond. Devin Nelson, Logan Brandon and Jacob Thomas had goals. Bobby Clone, Seth Luke and Dylan Griffey had assists, and Luke Yeadon and Josh Powell combined for the shutout in goal.

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