Kellen Mond hopped backward and feigned a handoff to Trey Sanders. As the defense assaulted his running back, Mond shot up through the heart of St. Frances’ defensive line and rumbled toward the end zone, where he could begin a nonchalant celebration.
The motions have become familiar for Mond during his historic season at IMG Academy. The run was basically the same — a deft blend of power and vision, aided by a wealth of talent surrounding him — as so many he has broken off this season. To Mond it was just another score in a 38-0 blowout win. For IMG’s youthful record book, though, the run was historic. Mond vaulted himself atop the Ascenders’ single-season touchdowns list with his 17th of the year.
“First of all, he’s a big kid,” head coach Kevin Wright said, picking out one of the reasons for Mond’s unprecedented success. “He’s 6-2, 200 pounds, so he’s an extra running back, really. He’s a true dual-threat guy. The fact that he’s running zone read, running power read, so he’s got to make good decisions. Basically, I think being surrounded by good players. They can’t really key on any one guy and usually the quarterback’s the guy who’s unaccounted for in the run game from a defensive standpoint, so if he makes the right read he’s going to get some things opened up for him, which is what’s happened a lot.”
Playing in his final game at IMG Academy Field, Mond was mostly held in check on the ground, but still ran for two touchdowns to set his program record. He carried the ball 15 times for 23 yards, although that includes 27 yards lost on seven sacks. Through the air, though, Mond was dominant. The Texas A&M commit connected on 10 of 13 passes for 163 yards and a touchdown. During his lone season with the Ascenders, Wright said, Mond has become a more complete passer. He showcased his full package on his senior night.
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Mond was already one of the most highly touted dual-threat quarterback prospects in the country when he arrived in Bradenton. The San Antonio native was committed to Baylor, where he was supposed to become the next great operator of the Bears’ spread attack before a sexual assault scandal threw the program into upheaval.
He was content mostly to rely on his bulk and speed, slicing through defenses for at least 100 yards on the ground in each of his first two regular-season games at IMG. He hasn’t had a 100-yard game since.
“We’ve seen a lot of really good defenses, a lot of really good secondaries. He’s learned to stay in the pocket,” Wright said. “It’s a good takeaway for the next level because things happen so much faster.”
He contributed his first touchdown with his arm, connecting with Emmanuel Greene, a Central Florida commit, for a perfectly placed 33-yard touchdown in the seam with less than two minutes left in the first quarter. Mond dropped the pass just across the goal line, where the wide receiver stretched his arms above his defender to haul in an over-the-shoulder grab and give the Ascenders’ a 14-0 lead.
The rest of the IMG’s damage came on the ground. Running back Trey Sanders logged seven carries for 95 yards and two touchdowns, including the Ascenders’ opening score. Mond ran in two more touchdowns during the second quarter as the Ascenders (10-0) finished with 113 yards on the ground against Baltimore’s St. Frances (10-2).
“I’ve got to thank my offensive line,” Mond said. “The whole season they’ve been blocking their tail off. We have guys switching in and out, but really all those guys have been blocking for me and they get all of the credit from me.”
Both of Mond’s touchdowns were typical of how he’s piled up the total to break current Alabama running back Bo Scarbrough’s record. The second was IMG’s killing blow, a perfectly timed read option to stretch the Ascenders lead to 31-0 at halftime. His first was even craftier.
Mond set up at the 11-yard line — in the red-zone sweet spot where he’s most dangerous — with Sanders to his right. Sanders motioned behind Mond as the snap reached the quarterback’s hands. Mond faked a pitch to his left, the scampered up the middle, barely touched to tie Scarbrough’s touchdown record.
“I tried to get four,” Mond said. “I thought I played a really good game. I’ve got to give credit to my offensive line and a lot of the receivers that were making plays for us.”
IMG Academy 38, St. Frances Academy 0
St. Frances Academy
IMGA— Trey Sanders 24 run (Cooper Graham kick), 9:05
IMGA— Emmanuel Greene 33 pass from Kellen Mond (Graham kick), 1:27
IMGA— Mond 11 run (Graham kick), 11:48
IMGA— Graham 38 field goal, 8:03
IMGA— Mond 10 run (Graham kick), 0:38
IMGA— Saunders 41 run (Graham kick), 5:36
Rushing: St. Frances Academy 32-157: Gary Brightwell 13-66, Tariq Coley 3-17, Darion McKenzie 1-(-16), Osman Savage 5-20, Isaiah Robinson 1-(-1), Tyreece Jones 7-58, John Gant 1-11, Terrell Smith 1-2. IMG Academy 24-113: Mond 15-23, Sanders 7-95, John-Marcus Carruthers 1-2, Zack Annexstad 1-(-7)
Passing: St. Frances Academy 8-25-1, 110: Robinson 8-23-1, 110, McKenzie 0-1-0, 0, Gant 0-1-0, 0. IMG Academy 11-14-0, 170: Mond 10-13-0, 163, Z. Annexstad 1-1-0, 7.
Receiving: St. Frances Academy 8-110: Randy Fields 2-72, Brightwell 2-10, Jordan Swann 1-4, Jahre Fish 1-3, Gant 1-(-1), Myles Wright 1-22. IMG Academy 11-170: Brock Annexstad 4-27, Tre McKitty 2-37, Greene 3-87, Brian Hightower 1-9, Jhamon Ausbon 1-10.
Braden River at Venice, 7:30 p.m.
Saint Stephen’s vs. Windermere Prep (in Oviedo), 7 p.m.
IMG Academy at Bishop Sullivan Catholic (Virginia Beach, Va.), 7 p.m.