Marionville was in for some growing pains in last season after graduating a strong 2015 senior class and losing their head coach.
Paden Grubbs took the reins of a young team in 2016 as Marionville went 2-8 while playing many underclassmen.
Experience gained in 2016 should pay off in 2017 as the young Comets all have another year under their belts.
“We were an extremely young football team last season. (It was) definitely a learning year,” Grubbs said. “Our juniors and sophomores received a lot of valuable playing time last season. They kids have stuck to the process of getting better each day and have competed in the weight room consistently since November last year to make themselves bigger, faster, and stronger. The growth in the weight room will go a long ways for us this season.”
Senior Jake Redus will be relied upon for both on the field production and leadership. He was an all-conference wide receiver last season after he caught 25 balls for 470 yards and five touchdowns. The senior is also the leader of the secondary on defense where he was all-conference as a sophomore.
Chris Barber will lead the offensive and defensive lines and will be joined by Isaac Morgan, Joe Merritt and Wil Ghan on both lines. Ty Bick will see time at linebacker and guard in his sophomore season.
Ryan Mayberry will move from quarterback to wide receiver this year. Junior Alex Gracia and Josh Goodman will be the featured running backs on the offense.
The middle of the defense will be keyed by Gracia and fellow junior Evan Dotson. Gracia tallied 61 tackles and two sacks. Dotson had 53 tackles and three sacks.
“We didn’t move Alex to linebacker until week 5 last season. He went on to be an all-conference linebacker. He is a great tackler who can run sideline to sideline. Evan has put on 10 pounds in the off-season to allow him to play more physically. That junior combo has a chance to be really good over the next two seasons. We are really excited about them both,” Grubbs said.
The all-conference duo of Wiley Wycuff and Coltin Elliott will be the keys on the defensive line after all-conference seasons a year ago. Wycuff, a senior, had 39 tackles and nine sacks in 2016. Elliott chipped in 37 tackles and three sacks last year as a sophomore.
“The coaching staff believes Wiley and Coltin could have monster years. Those two have really stepped up and become leaders of the defense. They are extremely quick off the ball and have non-stop motors. They expect themselves to be great as well,” Grubbs said.
Marionville will have its Jamboree on Aug. 11 at Miller with the host Cardinals, East Newton and Pleasant Hope.
The real work begins one week later with the season-opener at home against Sherwood.
“This team is hungry to regain respect,” Grubbs said. “This group is very close, hungry, and ready to come out and compete their tails off from Week 1”