In his first season as a head coach, Barry Wells helped guide the Mount Vernon football program from an 0-10 record in 2009 to a second-place finish in the National District and a playoff berth during the 2010 campaign.
Entering his second season with the Majors, Wells has a better understanding of what to expect from certain aspects of his job. What he doesn’t know is whether he’ll have the athletes to continue improving.
One year after posting a doughnut in the win column, Mount Vernon finished the 2010 regular season with a 5-5 record, including a 5-2 district mark, before losing to South Lakes, 39-0, in the regional playoffs. However, the graduation of key players such as linebacker Julien Randolph, running back Emmanuel Tackie and lineman Logan Beougher, and a drop in offseason commitment has Wells uncertain of what to expect with two-a-day practices starting on Aug. 8. Wells said the lack of offseason work will likely "haunt" the Majors at some point during the season, but he hopes the team can find a way to be resilient.
"The excitement is certainly the same. I’m eager to get back at it," Wells said, comparing how he feels now to how he felt prior to his first season as a head coach. "I’m familiar with, at least, how things will unfold in the grand scheme of things: the program, the coaches and getting things up off the ground. I am not as sure about the talent base this year as I was last year. … Almost sight unseen, I said .500 or bust [last season]. This year, what I’m telling the underclassmen is the bar’s been set. Julien and Emmanuel and Logan and all those guys bought into the program last year [and] they worked their butts off. They were 0-10 as juniors, 5-5 as seniors, 5-2 in the district [and earned a] playoff berth. They set the bar, and with that comes the expectations of everyone around us. …
"It remains to be seen if we’re going to get the kind of commitment and production from this next crew that we need to continue the success pattern."
Wells mentioned two ways in which he wants to alter his coaching approach. The first is making sure practice tempo translates to game tempo, and the second is being relentless in developing a winning attitude.
"Quite frankly," Wells said, "when we got to the playoffs, I don’t feel like the kids felt like they were prepared to go and give South Lakes a run for their money."
There have also been changes to the coaching staff. Wells will call plays on offense for a second straight year, but he will also coach the quarterbacks in an attempt to help improve production from the position. Rising junior Robert Nelson, who split playing time last season, or rising sophomore Brendon Maturey will likely land the starting job.
"They bring different things to the table," Wells said. "Robert is athletic, he’s got a live arm, but Brendon is the technician: very smart, understands his role as a quarterback [and] understands defensive schemes."
Lloyd Jackson moves from assistant to defensive coordinator, taking over for the retired Walter DeHoust. Blair Maginnis will coach the offensive and defensive lines, Jarvis Davis will be the assistant defensive coordinator and Jamie Langley will be the assistant offensive coordinator. Jamaar Hicks will be the head coach of the freshman team and Herbert Holmes will be assistant head coach of the freshman team.
The Majors will scrimmage Freedom High on Aug. 18 and La Plata on Aug. 25 before opening the season at West Potomac on Sept. 1.