By Dave Pearce
On a miserable cold, rainy, sloppy, and muddy night in Princeton Friday night, about the only thing positive the Mount Vernon Wildcats could take away from a 48-0 loss at the hands of the host Tigers is the fact there is nowhere to go from here but up.
Jayson Jamerson scored four touchdowns and the Tigers held Mount Vernon to minus-40 yards rushing in a dominating performance.
The Wildcats (2-6) fumbled 19 times, losing six to the Tigers (4-4).
Mount Vernon Coach Paul Maier says football for this year’s squad had become a mental game. His team is quick to fire up if things are going their way but are also quick to put their heads down if things don’t go their way.
Princeton’s Michael Richardson turned a fumble into the game’s first touchdown when he fell on the football in the end zone just four minutes into the game and that seemed to set the tone for not only the Tigers but unfortunately, also for the Wildcats.
“Was a football team, we have to be tougher mentally,” Maier said after the game. “We let the conditions bother us and they didn’t bother Princeton. And we have to be mentally tougher if something doesn’t go right immediately. And right now, if something doesn’t go right, we hang our heads.”
But this was not the Princeton Tiger football team that Big Eight Conference opponents have become accustomed to facing in the past few years. The win Friday night evened the team’s record at 4-4 and this year’s team, under a new head coach, is the first of what Princeton fans believe is the resurrection of the program.
“They have had some success this year,” Maier said. “I have known their new head coach for quite some time and he is a heck of a coach and a tremendous motivator. I think some of our kids went into the game thinking ‘Oh, this is Princeton.’ But this isn’t the same Princeton that they have seen in year’s past. They played hard, much harder than any Princeton team we have faced in a number of years.”
Princeton’s coach told his players before the game to “just pin your ears back and go. They won’t have any success throwing in conditions like this so when the ball is snapped, just go as hard as you can.”
That philosophy paid dividends as at times, those watching the game weren’t sure if the Mount Vernon quarterback was handing off to his running back or to the lineman who had penetrated enough to almost intercept the hand-off. That pressure led to what could be a record 19 fumbles by the Wildcats.
To show Princeton’s dominance in the contest, the Tigers ran the ball for 212 yards and the Wildcats had a net total of minus 40 yards on the ground. Through the air, Mount Vernon finished with only two yards compared to 86 by the Tigers. The Wildcats were held to only three first downs,
So what can the local boys do to rebound from the loss?
“Well, obviously they are down,” Maier said on Saturday. “But we still have a chance, if you look at our sectional, to win some games. If they can get it into their heads that they can do it, they can do it.”
Maier said that when the coaches broke down the film on Saturday, in most cases, 10 of the 11 players were doing just exactly what they were supposed to be doing on most plays. But there always seemed to be that one person of the 11 who wasn’t doing what he was supposed to do.
“They say football is the ultimate team game and Friday night was just proof of that,” Maier said. “That one person killed us time after time. We have some guys who are tying to do too much and some guys who aren’t doing enough.”
Maier said the mental aspect of the game became a factor three or four weeks ago when a play here or there could have made this year’s team a completely different team.
“You look back to the Washington game when the first play of the game, on the kick-off return, we had a player get a giant hit on their return player,” Maier said. “It got the sidelines fired up and from that point forward, we dominated that game.”
The sectional draw was held Sunday evening and the draw is as follows:
Sectional 24 (8 teams)
Game 1: Evansville Bosse at Vincennes Lincoln.
Game 2: Mt. Vernon at Gibson Southern.
Game 3: Pike Central at Washington.
Game 4: Princeton at Evansville Memorial.
Game 5: Winner of Game 1 vs. Winner of Game 2.
Game 6: Winner of Game 3 vs. Winner of Game 4.
Game 7: Winner of Game 5 vs. Winner of Game 6.
The Wildcats will close the regular season against undefeated Jasper this Friday night. They will open sectional play at once-beaten Gibson Southern, a school fielding its best team in years.
“We still have a lot of kids who are going out there and working hard every day and doing the things they are supposed to be doing,” Maier said. “We just need to get a few more kids on the same page of doing what we want them to do.”
By Dave Pearce
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