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Offseason Football Update: Mt. Vernon

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FORTVILLE — After point per game averages of 41 and 33 aided a 20-5 record over the past two seasons, Mt. Vernon’s isn’t about to completely overhaul its successful double-wing offense.

At the same time, fans of the black and gold should prepare themselves for more Ferrari in MV’s offensive attack in 2014 in place of the overwhelmingly Monster Truck-style that coach Doug Armstrong has favored his first three seasons in Fortville.

The reasoning is simple.

“We don’t have the same type of players to run over everybody. We don’t have the same type of players to run our normal double-wing attack,” said Armstrong, the owner of 77 career wins as he embarks on his 14th season as a head coach. “We’re going to spread things out a little bit – let the quarterback throw the ball, let the quarterback run the ball.”

That statement is a bit surprising considering Mitch Walrod, last year’s starting quarterback, averaged less than six passing attempts per game and rarely carried the ball. The new signal-caller stands to inherit much more ball-handling responsibility.

The quarterback derby is a four-man competition between seniors-to-be Caleb White (five-foot-10, 160 pounds and Brendan Bradfield (5-10, 165) plus rising sophomores Braydon Augustinovicz (5-10, 140) and Pete Werner (6-1, 170).

White has played quarterback in the past, but stuck to defensive back and kick/punt return duties in 2013. Werner earned starts in both the offensive and defense backfields as a true freshman, ranking fourth on the squad in rushing and tackles. Armstrong likes the athleticism Bradfield and Augustinovicz bring to the table.

“We have a group of guys that will come in and have a shot at being the quarterback for us,” Armstrong said. “We have four pretty good athletes in there.”

Dan Werner, who averaged 6.2 yards per tote in accumulating 1,058 yards on the ground as a junior in 2013, is being moved into more of a pass-catching role – though he did lead the team with six receptions last fall. Werner’s move will open up more carries for his younger brother, Pete (5.2 yards per carry), Brayton Shannon (780 yards, 12 touchdowns) and Jordan House (10.2 yards per rush).

“I’d say we have eight to 10 skill guys that I wouldn’t be nervous about getting the ball to them,” Armstrong said. “It was hard in our previous offense to get the ball to our receivers. To get Dan and other people the ball, we’ve just adjusted a little bit. We’ve always adjusted to our personnel, so it’s not a huge deal.”

Armstrong keeps a fairly rigid schedule during the offseason. Mondays are completely dedicated to strength conditioning and speed/agility training.

“We will do heavy lifting that day,” Armstrong said.

Players are off Tuesdays to recover from Monday. Wednesday and Thursday are practice days with lifting afterwards. The team has limited activity on Fridays and reserves Saturdays for competitions – seven-on-sevens, 11-on-11s – against other schools.

“We’re going to be an inexperienced team, so I think those will help us a little bit,” Armstrong said of the Saturday scrimmages.

Armstrong believes so strongly in his program’s lifting and conditioning-heavy schedule that he eschews traveling to college-based team camps.

“Any type of camps we do will be on Saturdays against other teams,” he said. “I always like to have weight lifting and conditioning at the forefront of what we do in the summer. With the balanced calendar you have to practice and prepare yourself to be competitive.”

In addition to their offensive changes, the Marauders will also deal with a few scheduling modifications. With the addition of New Castle to the Hoosier Heritage Conference slate, Muncie South was dropped from Mt. Vernon’s schedule.

Also, games against Greenfield-Central and New Palestine, played in Weeks 7 and 9 every year since 1997, have been moved to Weeks 3 and 4 for 2014.

“I think it’s good to get those rivalry games off fall break,” Armstrong said.

In its non-league slate, MV opens with Kokomo for the eighth straight season on Aug. 22 and plays Marion in Week 2 for the fourth straight season.

Armstrong has been pleased with his team’s progress to this point.

“We’ve been going for quite a while with strength, agility and speed conditioning,” he said. “The players have been working really hard. We’ve seen improvement in all of those things.”


2014 Mt. Vernon Schedule


Aug. 22 Kokomo {5A}  

Aug. 29 at Marion {4A}  

Sep. 5 Greenfield-Central {4A}‡  

Sep. 12 New Palestine {4A}‡ 

Sep. 19 at Delta {3A}‡ 

Sep. 26 at Pendleton Heights {4A}‡ 

Oct. 3 New Castle {4A}‡  

Oct. 10 Shelbyville {4A}‡  

Oct. 17 at Yorktown {3A}‡

‡ Hoosier Heritage Conference game

Notes: All games Friday evenings, 7/730 p.m. ... Weeks 3-9 are HHC games. ... Mt. Vernon will host Speedway for a scrimmage in August.

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