Rams Travel Long Road Back to the Playoffs

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By WSIL Sports

MT. VERNON -- When the Mt. Vernon Rams visit Mattoon Saturday, it will be the school's first football playoff appearance since 2008.

It's been a long road back to the postseason for the Rams. Coming into this year, Mt. Vernon had won only six games in the four seasons since their last playoff appearance.

The Rams put six in the win column this year and are playoff bound.

"As a team it means a lot to us," said senior captain Robert Grider.
"We haven't had a lot of success around the Mt. Vernon program
lately. To be able to come out with my friends, my brothers that I've
been playing for the last few year…and for the community it means a
lot."

Fellow senior captain Tyler Knutson agreed. "To be that senior class
that kinda brought us back, more importantly, to be that team that
brought us back to the playoffs--that's huge."

"I don't think there's a better group to show that sticking with it
really pays off, said senior captain Jacob Williamson. "Two years
ago 1-8, last year 0-0--we've really showed that working in the
offseason pays off."

To a man the Rams will tell you it's been a long but rewarding
journey back to the postseason. The formula for success has been
pretty simple.

"We all put the time in the weight room, Knutson said. "The one
thing I noticed is that everyone consistently worked harder. If they
weren't in another sport, they were in the weight room doing
something for football. Then when football season came around,
everyone pushed each other really hard. We all worked to make each
other better."

Senior captain Doug Gardner said the team approach has been a huge factor. "We didn't doubt each other. We just play hard."

Mt. Vernon head coach Jared Shaner said his team is looking for more.
"I think with some groups, they could fall back and say we went from
0-9 to 6-3 and made the playoffs. That's a great year. Our kids are
still pretty hungry, and they want to continue to play."

The Rams will kickoff at Mattoon Saturday afternoon at 3:00.
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