IMG Academy spent 24 minutes during a preseason win against Miami Gardens Carol City experimenting with its quarterbacks.
Kellen Mond is the obvious star, an Under Armour All-American and Texas A&M commit, but Zack Annexstad gives IMG another future Division I signal-caller. They took turns for two quarters last week in Bradenton before Mond took the reins for the second half, helping the Ascenders rally for a win.
For IMG’s first regular-season game, in Loganville, Ga., there was never a controversy behind center. Mond started against Grayson and single-handedly led the Ascenders on the two most important drives of their 26-7 win against the Rams. With his arm and legs, Mond accounted for every single yard on each of IMG’s first two touchdown drives to erase a 7-0 deficit against MaxPreps.com’s No. 2 team in the country.
“You saw a lot of his abilities as a dual-threat guy,” Ascenders head coach Kevin Wright said in an on-field interview with ESPN2 after the game. “We basically lined him up and ran a lot of quarterback iso, and then just when they load the box we had him throw the ball down the field. That’s pretty tough to stop when you’ve got a guy who can run the ball and throw the ball like that, and he probably ran the ball tonight more than he has in any one game in his life, I think.”
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Mond finished with 33 carries, 136 rushing yards and two touchdowns. He also threw for 136 yards on 16 of 26 passing with another touchdown through the air. In his first regular-season start for IMG, Mond proved why he’s one of the most highly coveted quarterbacks in the nation.
The Ascenders (1-0) fell behind early on a 56-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Chase Brice to running back Jamyest Williams, who verbally committed to South Carolina before the game. Midway through the second, though, Mond tied the game, darting into the end zone from 15 yards out. Kicker Cooper Graham knocked in a field goal just before the half to give IMG, MaxPreps’ No. 4 team, the 10-7 lead it would never relinquish. Mond went into halftime already with 71 yards through the air and 80 on the ground.
And just like the Ascenders did last week against Carol City, they used their depth to wear down Grayson (0-1) during the second half. Mond ran for his second touchdown, an 2-yard plunge, with 9:47 left in the second then sealed IMG’s victory with a 6-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jhamon Ausbon with 4:43 remaining.
“We talked about being very physical and they’re a physical team,” Wright said. “We wanted to try and control the line of scrimmage, so we felt like if we could remove a guy from the box, be physical up front, let our offensive line take over then we could wear them down.”