A lot changed from winning a Class 4A state title to opening up the 2022 high school football season.
The Mt. Vernon Marauders won the title with a 14-1 record in 2021, but along with winning the title they said “good-bye” to a big senior class.
The most recognizable names coming in to the new season were senior tight end and Purdue recruit George Burhenn and senior wide receiver and Division I baseball (Xavier) commit Eli Bridenthal.
While the team has rode the coattails of two of Hancock County and the Hoosier Heritage Conference’s top athletes, the Marauders are developing a few more dangerous players on the offensive side.
They will continue to look to their two stars, but the blossoming of young talent could pay dividends for the remainder of this season and the program’s future.
Mt. Vernon has won three straight games and are over .500 (4-3) for the first time this season. The Marauders are 4-1 in HHC games and have had more than just their two veterans contribute during an impressive stretch of games.
Freshman quarterback Luke Ertel had one of his stronger performances in last week’s 41-20 victory over New Castle. He threw three touchdown passes and was 16 of 23 for 160 yards. Five different players, including Bridenthal and Burhenn, had multiple catches.
Bridenthal had two of the TD grabs and junior Tre Jones had the other.
Jones comes in with a pretty solid background, too. He is a two-time all-stater in track and field and joined Burhenn on last year’s 4×400 relay team that finished third in the state. He returned to the lineup last week after missing a game with an injury.
Against New Castle, wide receiver Jake Lange had a couple catches and was on the receiving end of a two-point conversion. Junior Tyler Etherington, a backup quarterback last year, has been another one of the top targets for Mt. Vernon quarterbacks.
“We have got to make sure, every week from now on, we find a way to continue to put pressure on defenses when we have the ball. … We’ve got to keep building on it week after week,” Mt. Vernon coach Vince Lidy said after Friday’s win.
The Marauders have used a number of different players in the backfield. Bridenthal has been a quarterback, running back and wide receiver. Senior running back Drew Martin and sophomore back Joliba Brogan have both had big moments during the season.
Brogan ran for 101 yards in a Week 6 win at Pendleton Heights. Martin had 98 yards in the win.
In a Week 5 victory over Delta, three backs had 70-plus yards. Bridenthal ran for 124, Brogan for 76 and Martin for 70.
Lidy was disappointed they didn’t run the ball better last week against the Trojans, and noted that part of the offensive attack will need to get back to the Week 5-6 form as they prep for the remainder of the season and postseason.
Bridenthal and Burhenn will continue to lead the way, but instead of an early-season two-man show, the Marauders have a few more offensive choices.
Bridenthal is coming off a four-touchdown game in Friday’s win over the Trojans. He had two TD receptions, a rushing touchdown and another on a punt return.
“(Eli) is a great athlete, he’s going to go play college baseball (at Xavier). He’s one of the fastest kids in the conference,” Lidy said. “We’re going to put the ball in his hands and George’s hands. We played three running backs (Friday) and Ertel’s going to throw it and he sprinkled it around – to Jake Lange, Tyler Etherington. We’re going to put pressure on defenses every square inch of the field.”