The Mount Vernon football program returned to relevancy following the arrival of head coach Monty Fritts.
In three seasons under the leadership of the Knoxville, Tenn., native, the Majors have reached the postseason each year, set numerous school records, and, in 2018, knocked off Route 1 rival West Potomac for the first time since 2006.
And if Mount Vernon’s 2019 preseason performance is any indication, Fritts’ fourth campaign with the Majors might be his most successful yet.
Mount Vernon recently competed in a scrimmage against area powers Lake Braddock, Woodbridge and Friendship Collegiate (Washington, D.C.).
How did Fritts feel the Majors stacked up against the competition?
“We were better than all three of them,” Fritts said. “… Our performance showed we were pretty ready for a big year.”
The Majors’ first chance to prove themselves will arrive Friday when Mount Vernon travels to Woodbridge to open the season against C.D. Hylton. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
The Majors will face a more difficult schedule than in previous seasons, but Fritts has plenty of reasons for optimism, starting with senior quarterback Fonnae Webb and senior slot receiver Jordyn Reid.
Webb returns for his second season at the helm of the Mount Vernon offense after transferring in prior to his junior campaign. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound athlete is committed to the University of Richmond as either a running back or receiver.
In 2018, Webb completed 46 percent of his passes for 1,329 yards, 13 touchdowns and five interceptions, according to stats on maxpreps.com. He also rushed for 1,386 yards and 21 touchdowns while averaging 9.6 yards per carry.
Webb earned first-team All-Gunston District honors as an all-purpose player.
Fritts said Webb worked hard in the weight room during the offseason and has improved as a thrower.
“He is a much better passer,” Fritts said. “… He has thrown the ball extremely well. … Because we are going to get so many seven- and eight-man boxes, if he can just complete the intermediate passes at a decent rate, he’s going to throw for a lot of yards because teams will bring pressure.”
While Webb is the catalyst for the Majors’ offense, Fritts said he considers Reid to be the team’s “best player.”
Reid started at running back for parts of three seasons, but the coaching staff moved him to slot receiver for 2019 to give the 5-foot-9, 165-pound senior a chance to make plays in space. Also, with Reid playing both ways (defensive back), the offensive position switch will allow him to make an impact while eliminating the wear and tear on his body created by running between the tackles.
As a junior, Reid totaled 878 yards from scrimmage and scored 13 touchdowns en route to first-team all-district honors. As a sophomore, he produced 1,489 yards from scrimmage and 17 scores.
“I think Jordyn is the heart and soul of our team,” Fritts said. “… Him and Fonnaee together are a tough combo.”
Senior Daniel Danso, who received honorable mention all-district as a backup last season, will take over as Mount Vernon’s starting running back.
Senior lineman Elijah Rucker (6-1, 270) is a four-year starter who earned all-region honors last year on both sides of the ball last year. On offense, Fritts said Rucker can play either guard or tackle and will likely line up as a 5-technique end on defense.
While the offense features multiple established veterans, the improvement of the defense is what most intrigues Fritts.
“The big thing for us is how improved our defense is,” the Mount Vernon coach said. “… Basically. everyone returns. … I’m excited about what offenses will have to compete against when they play us.”
Joining Rucker on the defensive line is 6-foot-1, 310-pound sophomore nose tackle Tamon Hendricks, a run-stuffing force in the Majors’ 3-4 scheme.
Hendricks will be expected to keep blockers away from standout junior linebackers Robert Overbey and David Kwarkye.
“When you see Robert and David with 12 and 14 tackles, it’s all because of [Hendricks],” Fritts said. “… He’s a kid that likes to put people on their back.”
After facing less-than-formidable non-district schedules in recent seasons, Mount Vernon’s 2019 opponents include perennial playoff participant Hylton, 2018 Region 6C runner-up Woodson, and Concorde power Centreville.
Fritts said the Majors were hurt by a lack of power points in the past (Mount Vernon went 8-2 last season but received a No. 6 seed and had to travel in the first round of the playoffs) and should benefit from a tougher schedule.
“Hylton is probably the toughest game we will have out of conference,” Fritts said. “… Hopefully we learn some lessons (early in the season).”
Mount Vernon has amassed a 20-13 record with a trio of playoff appearances in three seasons under Fritts, but the Majors have yet to win a postseason game under their head coach. Fritts did not include a playoff victory when talking about team goals, but the Majors are focused on putting themselves in a better position to do just that.
“The season is so long, it’s hard to get wrapped up with goals toward the end of the year,” Fritts said. “For us, [a goal] is to host a playoff game. That is a big deal for us. For high school football, teams that host win more than not.”
2019 Schedule (All games at 7 p.m.)
8/30 at C. D. Hylton 9/6 vs. Colgan 9/13 vs WT Woodson 9/20 at Yorktown 10/4 vs. McLean 10/11 at West Potomac 10/18 vs. Centreville 10/25 at Hayfield 11/1 vs. TC Williams 11/08 vs. Annandale