Josh Finney has given himself quite the mission as the head coach in Mount Vernon, and while winning on Friday nights is important, it's not necessarily priority No. 1.

"Of course we all want to win every week, but I think as long as you continue to coach winners, whether that's actually winning on Friday nights or not, whatever happens on Friday we can all live with," said Finney, who's in his first year as the Tigers' full-time head coach after being named interim mid-season in 2016.

But, the Tigers are doing a good job of winning, too. Mount Vernon is off to a 2-0 start for the first time in 2013 and is looking to build on last year's playoff appearance, which was the Tigers' first since Dickey Meeks was at the helm 12 years ago.

Defense has been Mount Vernon's strength through two games, allowing 14 points in Week 1 from Caddo Mills and six last Friday night against Brook Hill. The 21-6 Tigers win avenged a 27-14 loss to The Guard in 2016.

Mount Vernon held Brook Hill to one first down and 36 yards of offense in the first half.

"The defense has really been playing lights out," said Finney, whose team allowed less than 20 points in a game just once last year. "The kids are just flying around, executing and playing hard. They're stepping up and making their own plays without depending on someone else to do it. I'm proud of them."

The Tigers now look to avenge another 2016 loss Friday night, this time against Hooks. Hooks came out on top 25-13 a year ago, and Finney is looking for another strong effort as Mount Vernon continues to build toward a playoff run.

Hooks is also 2-0 on the season with wins over New Boston (20-6) and Redwater (20-19).

"There's no doubt we're going to have to establish the run and not let Hooks make big plays," Finney said. "It's always been a close game against them. We've got some big boys in places and speed in some others, so we're going to have to do the small things and hope we hit some big plays."

As Finney continues to build his foundation as head coach in Mount Vernon, his hope is that his work not only improves the program but also leaves an impression on the athletes he coaches on a daily basis.

It all started last year when he took over the team and the Tigers secured a playoff spot. It ignited a new passion for football in Mount Vernon, he said.

"It was a very good foundation that really set the tone for us. We had a bunch of kids come out and want to be a part of it," Finney said. "I've got starters right now on Friday night against Hooks who didn't play JV or Freshman football. But they're starters on Friday night because people took some time, were able to polish up a stone and find a diamond."

Finney's mission for his players is simple: work hard, get better and become better people in the process.

"I'm so proud of a lot of these kids at how far they've had to come to play football. It's my ninth year and there's no doubt I wish every kid could win a state championship, but that can't be your only goal," Finney said. "You have to mold these kids and stick by them. And one day maybe you'll get a Christmas card in the mail from a guy with a beautiful wife and kids, or a wedding invitation. We've made football into an entertainment show when it was originally supposed to be about making boys into men. That's what it's all about."

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