While losing several key players from last year’s state semifinalists, the War Eagles still have enough pieces in place to make another deep state playoff run in ’13.
“We had a good offseason,” Marist coach Alan Chadwick said. “The kids have been very committed to working really hard. Team chemistry has been exceptional, so we’re off on the right foot. We’ve got to stay healthy and play hard and hope that good things will happen.”
Marist has some especially big holes to fill on the offensive side of the ball after the graduation of quarterback Myles Willis, who signed with Boston College, as well as tight end Greg Taboada (Stanford) and running back Gray King.
However, senior Chase Mortensen appears ready to step in and replace Willis as the starting signal-caller.
“Physically, he has done some very, very good things,” Chadwick said. “He’s got some big shoes to fill to replace Myles Willis, but he’s worked hard and he should have a good season.”
While the War Eagles lost a couple of key players on the offensive line, they do return 6-foot-6, 275-pound senior offensive tackle Kendall Baker, a stalwart on the defensive line as well who has committed to Georgia.
“He’s one of the biggest players we’ve ever had,” Chadwick said. “He’s capable of dominating to a certain extent on either side of the ball and that’s what we need him to do. I think, from an offensive-line standpoint, we have a chance to be better than we were last year.”
Marist will be young and inexperienced in the defensive backfield, but makes up for that with a strong defensive line anchored by Baker at defensive tackle as well as a solid veteran corps at linebacker.
“Defensively, up front, we’re going to be pretty solid,” Chadwick said. “We’re going to be as big, defensive-wise, as we’ve ever been. We’ve got great experience at linebacker and a decent amount of depth there. We’re hoping that some of those kids will take the pressure off of our secondary.”
Defensive end Kenneth Brinson, a 6-2, 210-pound junior, will join Baker on the defensive line, while 6-0, 170-pound senior Michael Toner anchors the linebacker corps.
For Chadwick, remaining injury-free and the development of his younger players are among the most important keys to Marist’s success this season.
“We’ve got the ability to be a pretty good football team if we stay healthy,” he said. “Injuries hurt us a great deal. We don’t have the depth we always like to have. It’s going to be interesting. We’ve got some challenges. We’re young, especially at the skill positions, and we need to grow up in a hurry.”
Aug. 30 Clarke Central
Sept. 6 at Thomas County Central
Sept. 13 Lovett
Sept. 20 at Therrell*
Oct. 4 Columbia*
Oct. 11 at Lithonia*
Oct. 18 Redan*
Oct. 25 at Stone Mountain*
Nov. 1 Chamblee*
*denotes region game