Mt. Vernon’s run from a district No. 5 seed to Class 3 state runner-up last fall is not something that the Mountaineer faithful will soon forget.
It will also help the 2018 version of the Mountaineers after losing 10 seniors to graduation.
“We have had a big boost from kids in our sophomore, junior and senior classes coming out,” Mt. Vernon head coach Tom Cox said. “Guys kind of caught fire and wanted to be a part of what we are doing, so that has been great. We have a couple basketball players here that haven’t played in a couple year.”
Most of those seniors were lost at skill positions, but one key player the Mountaineers do have back is reigning Class 3 defensive player of the year Will Boswell.
“It is comforting to know that he (Boswell) is back,” Cox said. “His enthusiasm and drive and determination are contagious. More so than just his ability, he makes everybody else better.”
The leadership from Boswell and the never-give-up message from last year will go a long way toward a successful 2018 with the Mountaineers.
“I think it is really a good message. It is one that is never give up. We lost three in a row to drop down (to the five seed),” Cox said. “What I tried to them was that it doesn’t change anything. We still have to play all of these people, and it just changes what order play them in and where we play them.”
Mt. Vernon’s other challenge this season will be a realtively new slate of opponents as the Big 8 expanded to 14 teams with Mt. Vernon landing in the East Division with Aurora and five former COC Small schools in Hollister, Marshfield, Rogersville, Springfield Catholic and Reeds Spring.
“It is not just a new team(for Mt. Vernon), but (we have) a new slate of opponents and we don’t know much about them,” Cox said. “If you look at that side of the Big 8, the old COC Small, there are so many new coaches that we don’t exactly what to expect. We know that it is good football over there. We are excited to try something new.”
Mt. Vernon did play both Catholic and Reeds Spring as non-conference opponents last season coming away with a 35-20 win over the Wolves and a 16-14 win over Catholic. The Mountaineers beat Reeds Spring for a second time in the district championship game 30-28.
Monett and Seneca will be Mt. Vernon’s opponents from the West Division of the Big 8 this year.