The Mount Vernon Tigers have started 6-0 on the year and coach Mike Alexander has three main reasons for the early success.

"No. 1, we have a great coaching staff. They love the kids and have poured themselves into their players' lives," Alexander said. "No. 2, I give credit to the kids themselves. They've been down a long time here. There are 24 seniors on this team. They've stuck together since seventh grade.

"Lastly, we challenged the kids last January. We told them 'If you want something you've never had, you have to do something you've never done to get it.' They are invested, and it shows."

The leader of the offense is a move-in from New Diana who has never played football until this season. Quarterback Daniel Brown has taken the opportunity and flourished. In a Sept. 25 victory over Winnsboro, Brown scored three touchdowns three different ways. He threw for a score, ran in a score, and caught a touchdown pass in the 42-7 victory.

The defense, which gives up only 7.7 points per game, has been the team's foundation. Two key players have been junior middle linebacker Mason Cook, who has a team-leading 61 tackles and seven sacks, and senior outside linebacker Sakorey Chandler.

"Mason has a nose for the football. When the lights are on, he's full speed," Alexander said. "Opponents tell me after the game how difficult it is to block him. That's always a good compliment for a defensive player."

Chandler is what coach Alexander calls "a big-time play maker." He had two fumble returns for touchdowns in the 28-26 win over Hooks on Sept. 28. Chandler has 52 tackles, two interceptions, and four fumble recoveries in addition to his work on offense, where he's caught 22 passes for 379 yards and five touchdowns at receiver.

"We feel like the three teams we scrimmaged early in the year really prepared us for this run. Pine Tree, Van and Pittsburg are all bigger, faster schools," Alexander said. "But we needed those (scrimmages) to tell us where we were, and what we should work on."

Mount Vernon shoots for 7-0 when the Tigers host Queen City on Friday. Mount Vernon visits Daingerfield in a pivotal District 8-2A Division I matchup next week.