MT VERNON, MO - After a disappointing 2-8 season in 2011, the Mt. Vernon Mountaineers are starting over in 2012 behind a new head coach, Ozzie Riley, who had been at Springfield Central.
Head Coach: Ozzie Riley, 1st season
2011 Record: 2-8
Returning starters: 16
Players to watch: RB Shane Williams, QB Alex Hausman, TE Zane Phillips
Riley says he was happy at Central, which is known as a hard place to win because of its small numbers for football, but that with his family living in Mt. Vernon (his wife is from there), he decided that taking the head coaching job there would be best for everyone involved especially since he will hopefully get the chance to one day coach his two sons there (his eldest is in the sixth grade now).
One thing fans will immidiately notice is that Riley has brought the spread offense with him from Central. With experienced players at the skill positions including quarterback Alex Hausman and excellent runningback Shane Williams, Riley says, "we have the personnel to run it and they've done a great job in picking it up. The kids are a lot happier because we're spreading the ball around and it keeps them all satisfied.
What isn't satisfying for Riley though is the offensive line, which he describes as the weakest aspect of the team. And because of that Riley, a former defensive player for the Arkansas Razorbacks, has taken over as offensive line coach.
"If we're not any good (on the offensive line) you can look right here at me," he laughed. "But I really do believe we have the talent. We've just got to get it in the right places and execute."
Riley says that while the numbers in Mt. Vernon aren't much different than those at Central, "kids in a small town grow up playing football and they've got tradition here. Their basketball programs have been great and their football teams were good just a few years back. We're just one or two plays away from being back there again."