Aug 31, 2008 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
For a long time, the Marcellus football program followed a familiar pattern — win a few games each year, but never quite get to the level foes like Solvay or Westhill could reach. And it never got too exciting, either.
Well, all that has changed.
Going into 2008, the Mustangs are dreaming big — this after a season where an explosive passing attack came of age and Marcellus went 6-3, venturing to the Section III Class B semifinals before falling to Westhill.
“The opportunity is there (to move up),” said head coach Joe Goss. “But we’ve got to work really hard and be focused.”
It helps, in no small way, that the man directed at running the Mustangs’ high-octane offense has got two more years to go.
In his first full season as Marcellus’ starting quarterback, Will Fiacchi lived up to the hype, throwing for 2,176 yards and 25 touchdowns — impressive numbers for anyone, let alone a sophomore.
Now, for his junior campaign, Fiacchi must try and repeat the magic without two of his primary receiving targets — Jeff Watson and Mark Rudy, who combined for 113 catches a season ago. Still, Goss said Fiacchi has grown plenty and is as good as any passer in the area.
“He has worked really hard to improve his decision-making and discipline, and fitting the ball in there (to his receivers),” said Goss. “he could play for any team around here.”
Preparing for the departure of Watson and Rudy, Fiacchi has worked since last December with his new group of receivers on passing routes, right through the team’s annual June visit to the seven-on-seven football tournament at St. John Fisher College near Rochester.
In a strategic move, Scott Cotter moves from tight end to receiver, giving Fiacchi a tall (6-3) target to complement fellow returnee Derek Belvito. A.J. Mitchell and Joe Cornish also return, while Mike Quercia, a top-flight track and field sprinter, serves as a tempting deep threat.
Marcellus does have a running attack, too. Ricky Alfreds starred as a freshman before getting hurt late in the season, missing the Westhill playoff game. He’ll assume most of the carries, and Kevin Daily will take over whenever Alfreds needs a rest.
On the offensive line, Greg Kelly (255 pounds) received honorable mention All-CNY consideration in ’07 and returns at tackle, with Tim Koes (240 pounds at the other tackle spot.
Nikko Wagner, a one-time tight end, gained 25 pounds (he’s now at 205) to play at center, where guards Tom Selesky (220 pounds) and Zach Wiley (a sophomore at 205 pounds) will flank him. Everyone on this line is charged with protecting Fiacchi from oncoming pass rushers.
At 6-5 and 245 pounds, junior Allen Masters provides a towering presence at defensive end. He leads a four-man front where Zach Amidon and Josh Tucker battle for the other end spot, while Kelly leads a large rotation of tackles.
To fix what had been an inconsistent corps of linebackers, Goss moved 6-2, 200-pound Corey Bice back from his previous end spot. Otherwise, it’s an entirely new group, with Wiley and twin brothers John and Jason Howard all set to start.
A season-ending ACL injury in ’07 kept C.J. Nye from playing at strong safety. Nye’s knee is fine now, so he gets to join Steve Raven, who will start at free safety. Mitchell and Cornish give the Mustangs a pair of first-rate cornerbacks, and Fiacchi might even see some time back here if the situation calls for it.
Due to the state revamping enrollment parameters, many Section III schools moved down to Class C, leaving Marcellus as one of just 11 teams in the class. Still, neighbors like Skaneateles, Solvay and Westhill are around in B West, with Homer and Phoenix added for good measure.
It all starts Friday night, when Holland Patent visits for a 7 p.m. kickoff. Goss said good health, along with offensive consistency and defensive improvement, is crucial if the Mustangs want to take that next step and fully contend for a championship.
“They want to get better, and they’re showing it every day in practice,” said Goss.