Mount Vernon Knights win inaugural game at the renovated Memorial Field
People began arriving by 11 a.m. - two and a half hours before game-time - to see the renovated field in action. The inaugural game at the new Memorial Field featured a matchup between the Mount Vernon Knights and the Yonkers Force on September 24, 2022.
Ebony Cooper, a Mount Vernon parent, was there for the warmups as the Knights hit the field around noon.
“I love the stadium. I graduated in ‘’98 from Mount Vernon High School,” Cooper said, "and it just brings back memories. It’s just full circle for me because I graduated on this field. It’s great to let my kid see something that was a part of me.”
For students, Memorial Field was always just an idea to them. It was the first game at Memorial Field in 15 years, so most were too young to utilize the field. Now they can see why it was beloved by so many.
“I’m just so happy. We used to drive by this all the time,” Jacob Sherman, a 10th grade cheerleader at Mount Vernon High School, said. “I feel like, for Mount Vernon, this is a big way of showing this small town that the city can do big things for us. Because we didn’t expect something this great.”
People on the Yonkers side were also impressed. Parents and students from Yonkers were outnumbered, but they were in the stands supporting their side. The coaches from the Force were also impressed by Memorial Field. Yonkers assistant coach Doug Hogue, who played for Syracuse and in the National Football League for the Detroit Lions and Carolina Panthers, was particularly excited by the atmosphere and scale of the stadium.
“Walking through the tunnel here is absolutely exciting,” Hogue said. “It’s kind of like having a situation in college where you were in the tunnel and not really knowing what’s on the other side until you actually get a view of the stands. I mean having a high school game at that level is just amazing. There’s nothing like it.”
The Knights went back into the tunnel before kickoff to go over the game plan, and they came back out for the coin toss. Superintendent Dr. Waveline Bennett-Conroy, Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard and Westchester County Executive George Latimer joined the players on the field for the coin-toss.
“This is our home,” Patterson-Howard said. “This is the jewel of Mount Vernon.”
The Knights started the game from their own 32-yard line with a five-yard screen pass. They methodically marched down the field before Zavion Vassel ripped off a long touchdown rush and Mount Vernon went up by 8. Fans enjoyed seeing their Knights get off to a fast start and had memories of old games at Memorial Field.
“Yeah, it brings back a lot of memories,” said John Lockett, a Mount Vernon resident. “It’s not like I remember it, but it’s good to see the people back out again, and it is going to get even better. But there are a lot of people out here, that is for sure.” The stadium was packed almost all the way to its 3,900-person capacity.
“Mount Vernon all the way,” Daryl Person, 27, said, “The field needed the work, and I’m just so glad that they brought it back.”
The Yonkers Force answered the Knights fast start with a long drive of their own to tie the game 8-8. The Knights started the next drive off with a few rushes before Knights quarterback Isiah Dedier uncorked a long pass to Faishaun Boyd for a touchdown. The Knights took a 16-8 lead.
On the next drive, Karmiel Yitzchak made a fourth-down sack to turn the ball over at midfield. Jaden Hamilton automatically ripped off a 15-yard rush. They handed it back to him for another 10, and then Dedier and Boyd connected for their second touchdown on a play-action pass to go up 24-8.
Now on the defensive side, Vassel got a big sack to set up the Force with a third and long on their own side of the field with 5:43 left in the half. The Knights got the stop, forced the punt and returned it to the Yonkers 45. They started to drive, but a botched lateral toss landed right in the defender’s hands. He ran it down the field for what looked like a touchdown, but Jaiden Hamilton showed tremendous effort and speed to bring him down inside the five-yard line. The Force still managed to score and make it a 24-16 game.
Vassel ended the next drive with a 50-plus yard touchdown run and Jaden Dempsey converted the two-point conversion to push the lead back to 16. The half ended at 32-16.
Music played on the loudspeaker at the half as players went back through the tunnel. The cheerleaders made their way to the middle of the field for their halftime show.
Fans were buzzing as they watched the halftime show and made their way to concessions. Markita Wade, sister of Knights Head Coach Mark Murray, was proud of her brother and excited to be back at Memorial Field.
“It feels good to be back in this stadium. This is great for Mount Vernon,” Wade said, “Memorial Field is the heart of Mount Vernon. And this will definitely bring a sense of community back to Mount Vernon. The heart of Mount Vernon is beating again, and Mount Vernon is back. There’s nothing like a football game to get the camaraderie back in the people.”
Keisha Esson, Zavion Vassel’s mom, celebrated her son’s two touchdowns, including the first touchdown at the renovated Memorial Field.
“I am super proud of all these boys, but I’m extra excited for my son. I prayed real hard,” Esson said, “and I kid you not I really prayed that he would score a touchdown and do a lot of runs today and it happened. So, I’m super excited for the Mount Vernon Knights, and I am very excited that the boys were able to play their first home game here.”
The second half was more of a defensive showing. The Knights stayed at 32, and the Force managed to score another 8. The two teams punted back and forth for much of the remainder of the game. Jarid Collins snagged a clutch interception as the Force were driving, and then the Knights ran out the clock to get their second win of the season.
Faishaun Boyd, who was arguably the game's MVP next to Vassel, said his touchdowns felt extra special today being some of the first at the new field.
“Hearing all the things from people that used to play at this field, the great memories and all that,” Boyd said, “how fun it is and how exciting it is to play on the field. It felt good to score a touchdown here and leave my mark on this field.”
The Knights gathered around the field to celebrate their first win at Memorial Field, and the fans left the stadium happy with the result of the game and their new field.
Thanksgiving celebrations occurred throughout the Mount Vernon City School District during the week leading up to Thanksgiving. Students and staff throughout the district participated in fun, educational activities and ate a wide variety of Thanksgiving foods.
Pre-kindergarten students were dressed to impress at Friendship for Tots, and their parents came out in suits and gowns as well. The Small and Tall Ball in the Fall took place on Thursday, November 17, 2022. The D.J. had his mix playing from the start of the ball to the end, and the dance floor was always packed with little children and their parents.
The Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council met with Superintendent of Schools Dr. Waveline Bennett-Conroy and cabinet members Dr. Beverley Jones and Ms. Marci Tiggs to review academic progress and share their learning and reading experiences this past month. The group of scholars from multiple schools and grade levels also attended an Infinite Campus workshop at the Education Center on Wednesday, November 16, 2022.
On Wednesday, November 9, 2022, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Waveline Bennett-Conroy celebrated each of the 75 students in the Smart Scholars program. Early College High School Program students were also presented with a pin and certificate of excellence at the board of education meeting.
The Knights Boutique has officially opened for its first full year after opening last May. Students and staff have been working hard to make adjustments to make this boutique even more successful.
An empty classroom and a vision are all it took a couple of students and staff to create the Knights Boutique. The Knights Boutique is a 100 percent volunteer run store that allows students at Mount Vernon High School to “shop” for free clothes, school supplies, toiletries and more.
Stephanie Tirado is a prekindergarten teacher at Cecil H. Parker School and has been with the district for five years. She builds her classroom on the importance of relationships and stresses the importance of getting to know her students and their families. She takes an interest in what her students like.
This evening, the Board of Education appointed Cerini & Associates, LLP to conduct an independent comprehensive audit of the School District’s grant program. Cerini & Associates is a regional accounting firm based on Long Island. It counts internal and external auditing as well as forensic accounting among its many capabilities.
Spooky outfits and masks couldn’t hide the smiles of children as they celebrated the Fall spirit in Mount Vernon schools. Students across the Mount Vernon City School District came to school in costume for various celebrations across the district and were rewarded with buckets full of candy.