So securing their first victory in the new league Aug. 31 meant a lot.
Behind quarterback Elijah Burnette, who rushed for 157 yards and two touchdowns and passed for 159 yards and a pair of scores, according to MaxPreps, the Mustangs defeated St. Francis 35-28 in only their second game since moving from the GISA.
Browning Dunn rushed for 54 yards and caught three passes, including the game-winning touchdown, for 65 yards in Mount Vernon’s home win. Miles Rance caught two for 56 yards, and lone senior Evan Tucker had three catches for 38 yards.
It also helped wash away the sting of the opener for the Mustangs, when they lost 55-13 at Mount Pisgah Christian.
“It felt good,” Burnette said. “After the first game getting an introduction to the league, especially in the second half, we started to understand the speed of GHSA and the difference between it and GISA. Practices are a lot more intense now. It was a good feeling, especially coming at the last second, [and] it was the first game at Mount Vernon. Pretty much everybody was there.”
The Mustangs battled Pinecrest Academy last Saturday in another non-region game, falling 56-27. They next face Cross Keys at Adams Stadium Saturday before Region 5-A play begins Sept. 28 with Landmark Christian.
“We’re getting stronger now,” Burnette said. “We’re improving and adapting to this new speed of this game.”
From here, it only gets tougher. One local opponent, Holy Innocents’, topped the GHSA points rankings for Class A private schools through three games after wins over Lakeside (DeKalb) and Wesleyan and a loss to Riverwood, according to the Georgia High School Football Daily Report. Now that Class A is divided into private and public school playoffs, the points system will rank the schools from No. 1 to 16 for the postseason and is based on wins and the classification and winning percentage of the opponent.
Mount Vernon coach Reggie Burnette said this summer he did not anticipate a huge upswing in competition with the shift from GISA, and he hasn’t changed his tune now that the season is well under way.
“The teams that we’ll be playing against, I don’t think it’s that much of a difference than the top-flights in GISA,” he said.
“The skill’s a little bit better overall, but size-wise, they’re not any different than I thought they would be. Skill guys are better, they’re faster, but as far as size and the number of players that actually play, [they] are about the same. We feel comfortable with that.”