Co-Offensive Player of the Year, Tyler Dicks, Mt. Vernon senior running back: 170 carries, 1,852 rushing yards, 10.9-yard average, 23 touchdowns. Finished second all-time on MV career rushing list with 3,162 yards.
Co-Offensive Player of the Year, Anthony Burnett, Mt. Vernon senior running back: 193 carries, 1,580 yards, 8.2-yard average, 23 touchdowns. Finished seventh all-time on MV career rushing list with 2,401 yards.
Defensive Player of the Year, Andy Spears, Mt. Vernon senior linebacker: 172 tackles, including Hancock County-best 108 solo tackles. Finished third all-time in career tackles at Mt. Vernon with 315.
Dicks and Burnett helped the Marauders set program records for most rushing yards and most points in a season, led the team to a Class 4A No. 4 state ranking, fueled a Hoosier Heritage Conference championship run and were paramount in the Marauders’ first sectional title since 2006.
Spears captained a defense that allowed only 13 touchdowns during the team’s 11-game win streak (including the fourth quarter of blowout wins). The Marauders allowed 18.4 points per game and the starting unit went 12 straight quarters midseason without allowing an offensive touchdown.
It started in the weight room. Four years ago, Spears tied the MV freshman bench press record (285 pounds) and Dicks squatted 400 pounds to nearly break that program mark, and they only got stronger. Burnett improved his freshman bench total of 225 to 310 this season and was squatting over 565 pounds.
“We were just beasts in the weight room, really. Not to sound cocky, but we just worked hard.
“We knew that if we were going to be good, we just had to hit the weights hard. You’re not going to be good from sitting around on the couch.”
“I think we all recognized how special it was going to be in the summer. We were together every day, we never took anything for granted. We always had fun and we always worked hard. I think we had seen senior classes in the past kind of split apart. We all built a really strong friendship at the end of the summer.”
“Games were fun, but it was the off the field times that we had that were really fun.
“When the three of us are in the weight room, it’s almost awkward if we’re not lifting together. We have fun doing it, so working hard is fun to us.” — Burnett
“It’s the camaraderie that I’m going to miss. We enjoyed being around each other more than just Friday night. I’ll never do that again with anyone like the way we did. That’s what I’m going to miss, just hanging out with these guys.” — Spears
“When Anthony has big games or I have big games, it doesn’t really matter which one of us it was. We all block for each other, so it all just comes down to that.
“It’s an advantage when you have more than one running back who can damage the other team, so nobody really said anything about who had more yards.” — Dicks
“There’s competition between us, but it was only in a good way. We both tied for touchdowns last year and we tied again this year. It’s unselfishness, we don’t care. Any of us could do whatever we wanted and we’ll all be happy.” — Burnett
“I always like defense just because you knew you were going to hit someone every play. I thought it was more intense than offense. I love football, so offense was cool, too, but it was kind of a secondary thing. I did whatever I could to help the team.” — Spears
“He’s a freaking headhunter. He’s at the ball every play. Sometimes I don’t even know where it’s at and Andy’s already there. He has a gift for finding the ball and making tackles. We had kind of an inexperienced defense and he led them great.” — Burnett on Spears
“Some teams you could tell just wanted to focus on stopping one person. The first Delta game, they tried to stop me, then Tyler goes crazy and they try to stop Tyler and Andy (also a fullback) goes crazy in the fourth quarter.
“I would hate to play against us, to be dead honest.” — Burnett
“Speed and athleticism.” — Shelbyville coach Pat Parks on the traits he associated with Dicks and Burnett
“They both had the upper body strength, leg strength and passion to approach defenders with an attitude to break tackles. They both were patient to allow the blocking to develop, allow defenders to commit and then they hit seams and broke tackles. You could see it all season long in the different scout films I studied. They forced defenders to tackle them and they did not go down without a fight.
“Another thing that stuck out to me was that, from a distance anyway, they appeared to be two football stars that were unselfish about who got the next carry and who scored the next TD.” — New Palestine coach Charlie Hill on Dicks and Burnett
“Burnett and Dicks were a great pair, but the real strength was the offensive line. The real strength of our two sectional championships was our offensive line; same for MV this year. They had the strong line and two very good backs to run behind it. MV loses its entire offensive backfield, but four of the five offensive linemen are back, they will be very good next year for that very reason.” — Pendleton Heights coach John Broughton
“As I watched their team play, to me he was the heart and soul of that team. Very good player and leader.”
Pendleton Heights coach John Broughton on Spears
“Relentless.” — Shelbyville coach Pat Parks on Spears
“Spears was a kid that did a great job reading his keys and coming downhill to the football. He deserves the (Player of the Year) recognition because he was a player that always seemed to get to the football and he made solid tackles when he got there. Spears appeared to be a leader on their defense and he helped to keep that group together.” — New Palestine coach Charlie Hill on Spears
“It was Mr. Powerful and Mr. Evasive. Anthony was just so powerful and strong; his blocking was dominant at times. And then Tyler, I don’t think he ever cut outside when it wasn’t a good idea, because no one was going to catch him once he got to the edge.” — Mt. Vernon coach Doug Armstrong
“Spears is just the epitome of a linebacker. He was tough, conditioned, ran side-to-side and never came out of the game. When you needed a big tackle, he made a big tackle. He was just the kind of guy you want in the middle of your defense.” — Armstrong