Mustangs point to tradition for inspiration

Mustangs point to tradition for inspiration


Mustangs point to tradition for inspiration


Merritt Island High’s rich football history has made it into one of the predominant teams in Brevard for several years, with three state titles beginning in 1972.

The Mustangs have been a model of consistency throughout those seasons, which includes 30 postseason appearances. And despite one of its toughest schedules, there’s no reason to believe otherwise this year.

“Like all Merritt Island teams (through the years), they’re working hard and working together. We lost some seniors last year, but it seems like every year we have a lot of kids step up for us,” head coach Jeff McLean said. “They’re trying to develop into a team. Football is the ultimate team game.”

The Mustangs return five starters on offense and seven on the defensive side of the ball, and have 22 seniors on the roster.

Senior quarterback Nick Smith, who threw 900-plus yards with 13 touchdowns last season, will lead the Merritt Island backfield with another year of experience. Senior running back Jon-el Battle will be featured in the backfield, like his father Walter Battle Jr. was for the Mustangs’ 1978 and 1979 state championship teams.

Senior linebacker Ty Schwab, who had more than 100 tackles last season, will have the duty of anchoring a stingy Mustang defense.

“It’s nice to have returning starters and seniors at quarterback and middle linebacker,” the seventh-year coach said. “We’ve got good seniors.”

However, Merritt Island competes in a district that includes four teams that have appeared in a state finals — Astronaut, Palm Bay, Rockledge and Titusville — along with a difficult non-district schedule.

The Mustangs will open against New Smyrna Beach and close out the season on the road against Ponte Vedra. Both teams were undefeated in the regular season last year.

“District will be a big challenge. You want to be able to start your first district game on the right foot,” McLean said. “We probably have the toughest schedule around.”

Emerging Stars

Emerging Stars

» Gordon Macy, senior, LB

» Andrew Bocci, senior, RB/DB

» Bailey Herring, sophomore, OL

Meet Jon-el Battle

Meet Jon-el Battle

» Senior running back

» Favorite sports movie: “Coach Carter”

» Favorite football movie: “The Longest Yard” (new version)

» Favorite class: Auto tech

» Favorite vacation spot: Savannah, Ga.

» Relatives who played athletics in Brevard: Father Walter Battle Jr. was a running back for the Mustangs’ 1978 and 1979 state championship teams and went to play at California State University, Long Beach. Jon-el’s brother Walter Battle III played at Merritt Island as a wide receiver.

2013 Schedule

2013 Schedule


Sept. 6 at Melbourne


Sept. 20 at Astronaut

Sept. 27 OVIEDO

Oct. 4 at Satellite

Oct. 18 at Titusville

Oct. 25 PALM BAY


Nov. 8 at Ponte Vedra

2012 Results (10-2)

2012 Results (10-2)

St. Lucie West Centennial W, 41-3

at Harmony W, 14-0

at East Ridge W, 57-13

Titusville W, 38-0

Cocoa L, 17-0

Rockledge W, 25-0

at Astronaut W, 35-12

at Space Coast W, 46-0

at Satellite W, 26-6

Melbourne W, 37-13

*Jensen Beach W, 28-0

#at Glades Central L, 26-10

* Regional quarterfinal

# Regional semifinal


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