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Major Turnaround

Mount Vernon in playoffs one year after winless season.

Around this time last year, members of the Mount Vernon football program were cleaning out their lockers, having just completed a 0-10 season. The Majors were outscored 365-129 and punctuated their futility with a loss to previously winless Wakefield in the regular season finale.

Twelve months later, helmets and shoulder pads are now commonplace in the Mount Vernon locker room despite the regular season having ended. The Majors, led by first-year head coach Barry Wells, finished second in the National District and qualified for the regional playoffs. Mount Vernon, seeded No. 5 in Division 5 of the Northern Region, will travel to face No. 4 South Lakes at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 12. The Seahawks finished 4-3 in the Liberty District.

Wells said the Majors haven’t exhibited the type of excitement one would expect from a team that went from winless to the playoffs in one season. The coach is hoping the players’ focused nature is a product of learning from mistakes — most notably a sub-par performance, according to Wells, on Oct. 29 against Yorktown in a battle for the district title.

"I almost think the kids are in shock," Wells said. "Our kids are pretty much keeping it all in focus. I haven’t figured out what that is just yet. … I’m hoping what they’re doing is guarding against another letdown."

Mount Vernon finished the regular season 5-5. After a pair of lopsided losses to non-district foes West Potomac and T.C. Williams, the Majors bounced back to win five of their next eight, including a 5-2 mark in the National District. Mount Vernon was 4-1 in the district when it faced 5-0 Yorktown on Oct. 29 in what equated to the district championship game. The Majors lost 28-14, but bounced back the following week with a season-high point total during a 41-21 win over Wakefield. Junior running back Dennis Mensah rushed for a school-record 288 yards and four touchdowns against the Warriors.

Mount Vernon has relied on its ground game for most of the season, operating primarily out of the I-formation, but the Majors took another step in establishing their offensive identity in recent weeks. After having success against Edison, coaches shifted 6-foot-3, 256-pound tackle Logan Beougher to fullback full time to lead the way for Mount Vernon’s tailback trio of Mensah, Emmanuel Tackie and Sadiq Oyedele. The Majors’ primary play is the iso, where the fullback takes on a defender and leads the tailback through a hole.

Mensah’s big day has Wells feeling good about Mount Vernon’s offense heading into the playoffs.

"We won a lot of close games and we really needed to get the offense on track and be able to put up some points," Wells said. "It’s fun to watch Logan and Mensah running that iso play. That’s pretty much who we are. We’re going to line up and we’re going to run iso and we’re going to run it until someone stops it. …

"We are a totally different ball club. We ran the ball for 200 yards against Edison before we moved [Beougher] to fullback. Since then, our rushing game is just totally different. Most linebackers do not want to meet him in the hole. He comes in there with bad intentions. … Either you’re going to step in there and man up or he’s going" to run them over.