MONROE COUNTY, WV (WVNS) — The James Monroe Mavericks put together a show-stopping season in 2021, complete with a six-game winning streak and a first-round shut-out performance in front of a home playoff crowd.

While they could not finish out as they fell to the number two seed, they are confident they can outperform their prior postseason. But they prepare to do so without several key skill players, including star-studded athlete Eli Allen.

Mavs Head Coach John Mustain said with many two-way starters entering their junior and senior season, he is confident in what they bring to the table.

“They are hustling the way they are picking up on things. And I think again, that has to do with the juniors and seniors we have that started. A lot of ’em started both ways last year so they know what’s going. You know last year was kind of a learning experience, them getting to know me and me getting to know them,” said Mustain.

Their defensive unit pitched multiple shutouts as the season progressed, and Mustain said they got better week by week, something he hopes to continue into this year.

But if there is one point of emphasis he wants to put focus on, it is the big boys up front.

“We have got to be more mobile now. I think to have agility has a bigger person. It helps you on defense and offense, to able to stay in shape during the game and not get worn out and I think that conditioning every day helps us come game time,” said Jacob Proffitt, a senior offensive and defensive lineman.

The Mavericks are playing for more than each other this season, as they dedicated this year to both the late Ben Thorton and Ted Ballard, who both had an impact on the football community in the county and the larger area overall. Ballard was a longtime assistant coach for the Mavericks, who passed in the spring, and embodied everything that the Mavericks aspire to be.

“He was one of those sergeant types who really had a bigger heart than sometimes people thought. I mean, I’ve seen him do a lot of things over here over the years that showed me that Teddy Ballard has a heart after all. We all loved him and the kids loved him,” said Mustain.

Mustain said he plans to honor both Thorton and Ballard with their performance on the field, and with how they act off of the field as well.