By Justin Sampson (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Marshfield had a stellar 2018 to build off as they entered the 2019 season. The team responded by averaging the most points per game under head coach Cody Bull.
The Blue Jays 30.5-point average is nearly triple what it was three years ago. That plus back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in over a decade are testaments to how the program has grown under Bull.
“We are getting better and better offensively. I don’t see any reason why that trend will not continue,” he said. “We have the full system in, which can adapt to any situation. We can go full tight, double back, and all the way out to an empty set. Our kids are familiar with how to do that.”
After a 6-4 campaign, the Blue Jays bring back half a dozen starters as they enter their fourth year under Bull. Most of those come on the offensive line, which will be the catalyst for everything they try to do this fall. Seniors Kyle Tinder (6’3”, 330 lbs.), Bobby Maples (6’4”, 265 lbs.), Wyatt Dill (6’3”, 275 lbs.), and Isaiah Starks (6’2”, 280 lbs.) all return with experience. Fellow senior Nicoli Condon will join them as a regular with the unit, while the sheer size of sophomore Tate Crawford (6’2”, 320 lbs.) will allow him to earn snaps as well.
“Those guys just enjoy being linemen. They take a lot of pride in pushing people around on the field. They are a tight group and we’re happy to have them.”
While the graduation of Brooks and Brennan Espy and Thomas McIllwain leave holes at quarterback and receiver, Marshfield gets a big weapon back in senior Daylon Kanengieter. He was a First-Team All-Big 8 selection as a junior, having rushed for 900 yards on 142 carries with nine touchdowns. His tough running tendencies mixed with a stout line have the Blue Jays expecting to have a punishing ground attack.
“He is one of the strongest players I have ever coached,” said Bull. “He can clean 360 pounds and has a 530-pound squat. He is an all-state wrestler who just works so hard. After hurting his ankle last year, we definitely want to keep him healthy throughout the season.”
The quarterback spot remains up for grabs with senior Blake Anderson and sophomore Bryant Bull vying for the job.
“We are in a good situation because they both have the talent. They are two of our best athletes. Both will get plenty of playing time, whether it be at quarterback or receiver.”
Senior Landon Wilson will bring his sizable 6’6”, 230-pound frame back to the tight end position, while fellow seniors Brady Brooks and Taylor Cappel will join sophomore Travis Greenfield as additional pieces at skill positions.
Senior Eli Steffen and junior Maguire Wilson, both All-Big 8 selections, will return to the defensive line after combining for 115 tackles and two sacks in 2019. Crawford also expects to contribute on the line.
Junior Jeremy Graham, the team’s leading tackler from last year (68), will anchor the linebacking corps as he switches to the inside position.
Brooks, Jones, and Greenfield will all see time in the secondary along with sophomore Andrew Beckner.
Before the Missouri Football Coaches Association guidance recommended that schools keep workouts internal, the Blue Jays got a taste of what they can do with a 7-on-7 competition at Ozark. They believe they have the talent, and a formidable line should help the passing game come along with strong support.
“We feel strong up front on both sides and should be able to run the ball well,” said Bull. “We don’t have much experience in passing or catching, but I am confident in the guys we are putting in there.”
Marshfield is scheduled to open the season on Aug. 28 against Seneca.