Aug 26, 2010 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
So the Marcellus football team ends a long wait for glory and reaches its first-ever Section III final in the Carrier Dome. In the aftermath, the head coach leaves and the record-setting quarterback graduates. That’s the end of the run, right?
Well, not if the 2010 version of the Mustangs have anything to say about it.
As it turns out, a lot of contributors to last season’s 7-3 squad are back, especially on the front lines. So is a proven group of skill players. And the new man in charge isn’t exactly a stranger.
Joe Fiacchi was the head coach at Canastota for eight years, from 1996 to 2003, leading the Raiders to what remains its only appearance in a sectional final in 1999. Then he came to Marcellus, working as an assistant under Joe Goss before Goss stepped down at the end of the 2009 season.
Now in charge again, Fiacchi inherits an enviable situation where the Mustangs don’t have many concerns — except under center.
Fiacchi’s son, Will, set every school passing record in his three years as the Mustangs’ quarterback. Now at the University at Albany, Will leaves a giant shadow that junior Kyle Hastings must fill.
Hastings started as a freshman for the Marcellus JV team in 2008, then spent last season learning up close as Will Fiacchi had his way. At 6-2 and 190 pounds, Hastings has a similar physical build, and Joe Fiacchi said he is ready to take over.
One big factor working in Hastings’ favor is that he doesn’t have to carry the offensive load — not with Ricky Alfreds returning for his third year as the Mustangs’ primary runner.
Having surpassed 1,000 yards a season ago, Alfreds is not a fancy runner, nor is he physically imposing at 5-8 and 175 pounds. But he is tough and durable, charges straight ahead and rarely goes down when he’s first hit, dragging tacklers for extra yardage. Alfreds will get most of the carries, though Allie Ragovin and Jeff Maes will help out when he needs a breather.
Though Dan Rudy, the school’s all-time leading receiver, is gone, Marcellus isn’t lacking here, with seniors Chaz Hayes and R.J. Linder both back to catch passes, along with Mike Tross at tight end. Linder is still recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery and will likely miss Friday’s opener against Phoenix.
The Mustangs used seven different offensive linemen in ’09 – and five of them are back, with only Niko Wagner and John Drapikowski out of the picture.
Senior Joe Felicia, at left tackle, anchors the unit, and he’s going to the University at Buffalo next year. As Felicia protects Hastings’ blind side, Tyler Tomeny starts at right tackle, while Zach Wiley returns at guard, Bryan Koes moves into the other guard spot and Dave Breuer handles the snaps at center.
None of the linemen top 250 pounds on the scale, but Joe Fiacchi said they make up for it with other attributes that will make life easier for Hastings, Alfreds and his mates.
“With us, it’s all about quickness and strength,” Fiacchi said. “These guys are strong, and they’ve got good feet. (Hastings) will be able to throw the ball.”
Move to the defensive side, and Marcellus is in good shape there, too, utilizing a unique 5-2 front with just a pair of linebackers.
Wiley is one linebacker, in his third year as a starter. He’s flanked by sophomore Jason Decker, who was second to the departed John Howard in tackles as a freshman and might go to the front of that category this fall.
Tomeny is yet another three-year starter, anchoring a tackle rotation that also includes Koes and two newcomers, Chris Martin and John Cavaretta. Felicia makes for an imposing end and, if he’s double-teamed, fellow ends Tross and Breuer could get free runs at the quarterback.
Experience is everywhere in the secondary, where Huss and Steve Raven man the corner spots and Hayes works at safety. Nick Nye could start here, too, and he is in the running to replace the Mustangs’ record-setting kicker, Brendan Carey.
For all that the Mustangs bring back, and for the high expectations in place, it still might be in an enviable position, at least compared with its two main rivals.
Marcellus doesn’t have to defend the Class B West or sectional titles, as Westhill does, and they don’t have to deal with the avalanche of attention Skaneateles has received when Tim Green was hired as its new head coach. Fiacchi said that’s just fine.
“We want to sneak in, do what we want to do, then sneak out,” he said.