Aug 24, 2011 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Just five years ago, according to head coach Joe Fiacchi, the Marcellus football team hoped to win games. Now, it’s a lot different.
“We go to the field with confidence,” said Fiacchi. “Our kids expect to win.”
That’s the inevitable byproduct of two successful campaigns. Following a 2009 run to the Section III Class B final at the Carrier Dome (where it lost to Westhill), the Mustangs nearly got there again in 2010, dropping a 16-14 heartbreaker to eventual champion Cazenovia in the semifinals.
From that 7-2 squad, Marcellus took heavy losses, as 14 seniors graduated. This leaves Fiacchi with a slightly smaller roster (29 players) as the Mustangs face a tough season opener this Friday against Class B West favorite Homer.
At least it has an experienced man under center. As a junior, Kyle Hastings threw for more than 1,000 yards doing a solid job succeeding Will Fiacchi, who holds every Marcellus passing record. Now, as a senior, Hastings’ responsibility is greater.
“He’s taking that next step to be a leader for us,” said Joe Fiacchi. “Last year, he did a lot of learning. Now we hope he can steer the car.”
To do so, Hastings will have to break in a new set of receivers after the departure of Chaz Hayes, Steve Raven and R.J. Linder. It will be up to the quintet of Nick Nye, Jamie Fiacchi, Mike Raymond, Casey Keegan and Jeff Kelly to take over, with Fiacchi lining up at tight end when the play calls for it.
Another big task falls upon junior Brad Kermes, who takes over at tailback. He replaces Ricky Alfreds, who stared for three years and accumulated more than 2,500 yards on the ground. Expect more time, too, for Duncan Merritt, who came in for an occasional series at quarterback to spell Hastings and is more of a running threat.
On the offensive line, Joe Felicia (University at Buffalo), Zach Wiley (Alfred) and Tyler Tomeny (lacrosse at Clarkson) are gone, but the tackle spots are secure. Chris Martin returns, while Bryan Koes is fully healed after a shoulder injury against Westhill forced him to miss much of 2010.
Inside of Martin and Koes, there’s plenty of size. Cullen Stubbs moves from center to guard, making way for 290-pound sophomore Tom Wagner, while another sophomore, guard Steve Hogan, checks in at 285 pounds.
While there are also some key parts to replace on defense, Marcellus can count on Jason Decker to wreak havoc from his linebacker spot. He led the Mustangs in tackles as both a freshman and sophomore, and the 215-pound junior impresses everyone with his approach to the game.
“He’s intense, runs well and has great football instincts,” said Fiacchi.
Pat Sammon replaces Wiley at the other linebacker spot. Marcellus often uses a five-man front, where Martin was a Class B West first-team All-League selection last fall. A rotation of Jamie Fiacchi, Pat Cooper and Zach Crysler will also play at tackle, inside of returning ends Rod Coffey and John Cavaretta.
Nye, even as he takes on a larger offensive role, anchors the secondary from his safety spot, where Merritt will join him. Casey Keegan, Tom Keegan and Dan Landi rotate at cornerback.
Changes mark Class B West, where Marcellus saw its long-time rivalry with Skaneateles disappear as the Lakers moved to Class C. However, the Mustangs still get to meet Westhill (Sept. 30) and Solvay (Oct. 14), all after visiting league newcomer Mexico on Sept. 16.
Still, it all comes back to that opener with Homer. Fiacchi said that any ambitions the Mustangs have for 2011 will stem from what happens that first Friday night of the season, which will go a long way into saying whether Marcellus can make another title run.