Aug 22, 2007 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Marcellus football is in a prime position to make 2007 a special season.
Participation and enthusiasm have both gone up, coinciding with the team’s brand-new Field Turf facility that allows for crisp practices, regardless of the weather.
Recent results suggest an upturn, too. Marcellus went 5-4 last fall, taking third place in the Class B West division, ending a long losing streak to rival Solvay, and reaching the Section III Class B playoffs before falling to Holland Patent.
What’s more, the Mustangs have five of its ’07 seven regular-season games at home, a rare opportunity to take what’s already been done and make it even better.
“It’s just a matter of learning how to win,” said head coach Joe Goss.
Usually, the departure of a top quarterback like Pat Keegan would be a big deal, especially since Keegan threw for more than 1,800 yards a season ago, and the Mustangs run a spread offense with four receivers that can be difficult to master.
However, sophomore Will Fiacchi is ready to go. At 6-3 and 185 pounds, he possesses the physique to look over a defense and find his receivers, plus the arm to throw deep. Fiacchi led Marcellus to victory in a seven-on-seven tournament at St. John Fisher College this summer.
What’s more, Fiacchi will concentrate on passing duties. He broke his arm late last season playing defensive back, and Goss said he will make every attempt to limit Fiacchi’s defensive duties so he can stay on the field.
Of course, it helps to have Jeff Watson around. Watson caught 60 passes in 2006, the most of any Section III receiver, and gained All-State status.
“Jeff is just real reliable, and has great hands,” said Goss.
If teams worry too much about defending Watson, returning starter Mark Rudy is bound to get open. Scott Cotter, Joe Kornish and Cory Bice will be counted, on, too, as added options at the receiver spot.
When Marcellus does run, it will count on Andy Caster, a 6-0, 210-pound threat that is in better condition after running indoor and outdoor track. Whenever Caster needs a breather, lacrosse standout Sean Conners can step in.
On an offensive line built more on quickness than size, Eric Wagner, all of 185 pounds, returns to start at center. In Greg Kelly and Marshall Merritt, the Mustangs also have a pair of proven tackles.
However, both guard spots are up for grabs. Goss said he intends to use both of last year’s starters, Jesse Marshall and Chuck Jones, exclusively on defense, where they could be more effective — and fresher at the end of a game. Marshall (a wrestling medalist at this summer’s Empire State Games) and Jones both move to inside linebacker.
“They’re both aggressive kids, and the move frees them up to be more athletic,” said Goss.
Knowing that it will be facing run-oriented offenses, Marcellus has stacked up linebackers. Bice, Cotter, Conners and C.J. Nye all will split time on the outside, working behind a line where Jim LaRose, Sean Cookhouse and sophomore Allen Masters will occupy starting spots.
Team captain Dan Knickerbocker is back to start at free safety, anchoring a secondary where D.J. Merriman is a proven commodity at cornerback. Kornish and junior A.J. Mitchell could prove valuable, too.
The Mustangs’ season could turn in a two-week stretch. On Sept. 14, it hosts Homer, and one week later it meets defending Class B West champion Westhill, which returns star running back Dale Ross.
After that, Marcellus plays three in a row at home, including tilts against its two biggest rivals, Skaneateles (Sept. 28) and Solvay (Oct. 12). With talent all over the roster, a favorable schedule and newfound confidence, the Mustangs can afford to dream big.