MT. VERNON – Numbers are low, but spirits are high at Mt. Vernon high school as the Rams opened the first practice of the 2017 season.
Mark Goodheart enters his second year as the head coach at Mt. Vernon. Monday was the first official practice after spending the summer with training and conditioning. It was also the first practice at the one-year old high school.
“It’s football fever,” said Goodheart. “We’re at the new school and it’s the first practice at the new field, I feel good about it.”
Less than 30 kids were available to practice on the first day with approximately 10 of those coming from the freshmen class.
“Our numbers could be a little more,” said Goodheart. “The kids are out here and working hard. We can easily stare 0-9 in the face again this year if we don’t switch it up.
“They’ve bought in. They’re working hard. We had three weeks of camp at the end of July. We had pretty good numbers. We’ll see what happens. I’m excited and I know these kids are.”
Monday and Tuesday the Rams will practice in helmets and shorts. Then Wednesday, the team can add shoulder pads and will be in full uniform next week.
“We’ve calculated the hours,” said Goodheart. “We’re down to 17 hours we’re going to dedicate to the offensive side of the football based on what the state allows us. We have 17 hours of offense and 14 hours of defense.”
Mt. Vernon opens the season Aug. 25 at Taylorville. Since starting the series against the Tornadoes three years ago, the Rams are 0-3 against Taylorville
“We have to put our offensive package in that we don’t have in already,” said Goodheart. “Taylorville is going to line up and we have to be ready to play. If we have 11 kids or if we have 90 kids we’ve got to be ready to play.”
There’s no slowing down the Rams as they’re working hard to learn the offensive and defensive schemes in preparation for Aug. 25.
“We have a pretty good idea of where we need to go,” said Goodheart. “We’re not pulling any punches. We’re throwing it out there. The kids are picking it up. We’re not slowing down. Those that can get it will play.”
Goodheart will lean on junior quarterback Nick Malone to lead the Rams this season. Malone took over as the starting quarterback his sophomore season.
“He’s the heartbeat of what we’re doing,” said Goodheart. “He’s done a great job this summer with motivating and expectations. He’s hardly missed anything this summer.
“We’ve got a lot of young guys that need to jump on and come [the practice]. We have a good freshmen group. They’re a talented group. They really fit in with what we’re trying to do.”