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Marcellus football relishes role as title challenger

Hastings, Decker lead Mustangs into opener against Homer

— 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.

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