Aug 30, 2013 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Playing football at Marcellus means a lot of things, and in recent years that had come to include regular visits to the Section III Class B playoffs.
But in 2012, all of that changed. Head coach Joe Fiacchi said his Mustangs were just fine in between the 20-yard lines, but just could not finish off drives or execute when it had a chance to win in the fourth quarter.
All of that translated into a 2-6 mark, a fifth-place finish in the Class B West division and no post-season, something Marcellus badly wants to atone for when the season kicks off in the Carrier Dome this Sunday against Solvay.
“If we can make those plays in the red zone, we can turn our whole season around,” said Fiacchi. “And we’re capable of it.”
Certainly the players are hungry and eager to start again, as evidenced by the high amount of participation (more than 30 of them) during summer camps at Syracuse University and Christian Brothers Academy.
Fiacchi said the value of those camps was that he got a chance to install both the offense and defense for the players, so that when practices started in mid-August, they were getting a second look at them and could quickly pick things up.
Senior Tom Keegan, the starting quarterback, took over under center late last season, throwing for more than 400 yards in a crossover game against Oswego.
At 5-foot-11 and 175 pounds, Keegan is a departure from the bigger, more physical Mustangs quarterbacks of seasons past. As a result, said Fiacchi, Keegan is more capable of moving out of the pass pocket and making plays with his feet as well as his arm.
Ian McGloon takes over for the departed Brad Kermes at tailback. McGloon ran for more than 400 yards a season ago, but he doesn’t have to handle all the duties, since junior Aaron Cusick and sophomore Ross Filtch give the Mustangs some backfield depth.
Marcellus does return its two top receivers, Wyatt Stehle and Mike Hastings. Both stand at 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds, meaning that Fiacchi could line them up at receiver or tight end and get some favorable match-ups. Will Coon gives the Mustangs a speed threat as a more traditional wideout.
They all work behind a potentially dominant offensive line that includes 303-pound Bryan DeCook at right guard and 280-pound Steve Hogan at left tackle. Tom Wagner, the starting center, also checks in at 280 pounds, while senior tackle Dan O’Connell (220 pounds) and sophomore guard Jack Brennan (195 pounds) round out the front five.
By far, the biggest defensive question for the Mustangs is at linebacker, if only because of the graduation of Jason Decker, who started as a freshman and led his team in tackles four straight years. He’s now at Division III powerhouse Salisbury University in Maryland.
Bryan Boice and Eli Parrish were both outside linebackers in 2012, but now have to go to the middle to replicate Decker’s production, and will see lots of playing time since Marcellus employs a 5-2 defensive alignment.
Up front, there’s lots of depth. Nate Davis, John Dunn, Truman Derrick and Ryan McVey all could see action at tackle, while Stehle starts at one end and Mike Keegan works at the other end.
Even with his increased duties as the starting quarterback, Tom Keegan, twice an All-League selection at cornerback, will remain in the secondary, forming a potent corner trio with Cole Walsh and Josh Finech, while Cusick, Filtch and Drew Mosher work at safety.
Given last season’s struggles, Marcellus cannot take any opponent for granted – especially the opener. Solvay has lost 23 consecutive games, but has a large increase in participation and enthusiasm this year, and Fiacchi said this game is Solvay’s “Super Bowl”.
The Mustangs’ first three games – against rivals Solvay and Westhill, and then a Sept. 19 game against defending sectional champion Cazenovia televised by Time Warner Cable Sports – all fall in a span of 12 days. By then, said Fiacchi, “we know where we will stand.”