By Chris Parker
Marshfield football brings an experienced core back from last season’s team that scored 30 points per game on the way to a 5-5 record.
Leading that group is senior quarterback Bryant Bull who is entering his third year as a starter. Bull, a second-team all-conference selection last year, completed 152 passes for 2,060 yards and 14 touchdowns. He had 83 carries for 609 yards and another 12 touchdowns.
“He has got a pretty firm grasp of everything we do. He makes our run game adjustments and protection checks. We will be a little more apt to let him change things at the line if need be. He watches a lot of film and understands what we are trying to do,” Marshfield head coach Cody Bull said.
Bryant Bull has college offers from SBU, Evangel, Truman State, Mid-America Nazarene and William Jewell.
He will have plenty of talent surrounding him on offense. Second-team all-region and all-conference running back Dayvion Harris rushed for 1,248 yards and 13 touchdowns on 166 carries as a sophomore.
“Dayvion has put on some really good weight. He definitely looks physically better than he did last year,” Bull said. “He has grown into that junior body and thickened himself up and kind of put on some armor to take some of those varsity Friday night hits. He has gotten faster and I expect him to pick up where he left off.”
Harris has a special blend of speed and physicality that makes him a tough puzzle for opposing defenses to solve.
“He is a physical runner who uses his speed really well,” Harris said. “I wouldn’t call him super shifty, but he is an extremely physical runner who can get to the sideline and go. It is a pretty unique combination.”
Bryant Bull’s top target in the passing game in Tyler Young is back and looking for a huge year.
“They (Bryant Bull and Young) have a good relationship and have a good chemistry built up,” Coach Bull said. “They spend a lot of time together throwing and catching. Tyler does a good job of understanding where open areas of defenses are. He has strong hands. He is able to make catches that other folks can’t.”
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Young had his season cut short by an injury in Week 6 last year. He was having a monster season up to that point with 38 catches for 644 yards and six touchdowns. He still earned first-team all-conference honors despite missing the final four games of the 2021 season.
The wide receiving corps is deep behind Young as well. Joe Harles, Travis Greenfield, Andrew Beckner, Marcus Blackstock, Braden Hicks, Marcus Gritts and Tyce Jones will all see time at receiver.
Joseph Martin will also see time at running back.
Up front, four offensive linemen with experience return in Mason Mellington, Jagger Robinson, Tate Crawford and Daniel Menton. Jordan Barnes will also start in his junior season.
“I think our experience and speed (will be strengths offensively),” Bull said. “We are fast as we have been. We have four guys that ran on our 4×1 relay this year that was a state medalist. Our guys up front are experienced and physical. I think there is a lot to be excited about.”
Defensively, Marshfield must replace its four leading tacklers from last season, but there is still plenty of experience to go around starting with Crawford at nose guard. Crawford had 49 total tackles with six tackles for a loss last year on his way to first-team all-conference honors.
“He (Crawford) is big. He is strong. He is athletic,” Bull said. “He eats up lots of blocks and makes tackles around him. It is impressive. Quite a few times last year he had one, two or even three guys on him and he was still able to get an arm on a running back and hold him up or even pick him up off the ground. He is definitely an issue for people in the middle.”
Mellington, Robinson, Clayton Shipman and Eric Tomanek will join Crawford on the defensive line.
“We are excited out our defensive line,” Bull said. “We only play three guys up there but they are fast and physical and they like playing football. It is pretty awesome as a coach to have big guys who just love and enjoy football.”
Kyler Menzies returns at linebacker after pulling down 58 tackles including eight for a loss last year. He will be joined by Jackson Dill and Tate Boles at linebacker.
Boles is a senior who has improved himself over the past three years to get his shot as a senior.
“He is a guy who has done a ton of work over three years. He is going to be a senior this year and is going to have his opportunity to start,” Bull said. “He looks like a varsity football player now. He has done a ton of work in the weight room.”
The secondary will be deep led by three-year starter Tristan Greenfield at safety. The versatile senior had 44 tackles and one interception last year.
“He (Greenfield) has done a little bit of everything for us,” Bull said. “He has played as many snaps as anybody on our team over the last three years. He is a really athletic kid who does a really good job for us.”
Ryan Nagy and Blackstock will also play safety.
Nagy had 68 total tackles with 8.5 tackles for a loss last year.
Blackstock pulled down 48 tackles last year.
“He (Blackstock) has probably put on 15 pounds and gotten a lot faster,” Bull said. “He was a state qualifier in the 100-meter dash.”
Beckner returns for his third year as a starting corner back.
“He (Beckner) is a really smart kid who is aggressive,” Bull said. “He has always been a steady presence back there for us.”
He will be joined by Tommy Mynatt and Joey Tackett at corner back.
Marshfield’s schedule does it no favors this year with an opening week game against perennial state championship contender Lamar before a road trip to McDonald County in Week 2.
It is a grueling schedule that will get Marshfield ready for post-season.
“The whole Big 8 every year is really tough,” Bull said. “Our schedule, even though it doesn’t do us any favors in the point system for district seeding, you are playing tough teams and tough coaches week in and week out. You are battle tested when you get (to post-season). Everybody does a really good job of making adjustments. Everybody gets their kids ready to play. It is a fun league to play it because you have to do your best prep work every week to have yourself ready to play.”