Posted: Jul 16, 2014 9:50 AM
Updated: Sep 5, 2014 11:10 PM
|8 / 22||Knox County||Away||Win||42 - 8|
|8 / 29||Schuyler County||Home||Win||56 - 0|
|9 / 5||Brookfield||Home||Loss||20 - 47|
|9 / 12||Putnam County||Home||Win||46 - 20|
|9 / 19||Salisbury||Away||Win||33 - 7|
|9 / 26||Westran||Home|
|10 / 3||Fayette||Away|
|10 / 10||Paris||Home|
|10 / 17||Slater||Away|
|10 / 24||Districts|
What a season the Marceline Tigers and then Head Coach Paul Thomas had in 2013. The Tigers stumbled a little bit early on (a particularly tough defeat was once again to Brookfield in the Bell Game), but soon they righted the ship and were off and running on an 8-0 romp all the way up to the State Championship Game at the Edward Jones Dome. There they hit a wall against a top quality opponent in state powerhouse Valle Catholic. But the Tigers had everything to be proud about with their effort, not just at the Dome, but throughout the season. The rushing attack was on target all year, and they continued to play their best football in the biggest games toward the end of the regular season and on into the post-season.
This season will start with some changes. Gone is Mid-Mo legend Paul Thomas who has moved on from Marceline to Warsaw after just four years. In comes another Mid-Mo legend Kent O'Laughlin who will take over the head coaching duties. With him will be assistants Josh Moore, Jeff Wright, and Josh Gannon. Coach O'Laughlin has a career record of 110-67 from past experiences, most notably at South Shelby. The coaching staff stresses the team concept more than anything else and to play a very physical style on both sides of the ball. The offense will employ a Multiple "I" game plan, while the defense will also use multiple formations. He also has other positives to work with this season. "We are excited about our group coming back from last year."
The offense will start with versatile quarterback Blake Linebaugh (5-8, 175). Blake was listed as 1st Team All-Conference and All-District for all-purpose athlete. He amassed over 1,500 yards of total offense. He and the other returnees helped the squad rack up over 30 points per game. Also returning in the backfield is junior Duane Avila (5-9, 185), who had over 100 yards rushing and 100 yards receiving last year at fullback. Junior wide receiver Jared Best (5-7, 155) caught nine balls for over 200 yards and two scores. The line also returns two standout guards in senior Chad Ewigman (6-0, 180) and sophomore D.J. Gerhart (5-8, 185). "We need to stay healthy and work through new offensive adjustments," said Coach O'Laughlin. "We believe we can be competitive again in 2014."
The offense has several other newer faces that will either start or play important back-up roles. Senior Bo Hustead (5-10, 185) played some center last year, while sophomore tackle Jordan Elam (6-4, 235) also gained some valuable playing time as a freshman. Junior Tanner Simms (6-0, 200) gained size and strength throughout the off-season. Sophomore Andrew Edgar (5-11, 160) will probably see some playing time at quarterback as Linebaugh might be moved around a bit. Juniors Daniel Corbin (6-1, 170) and Dylan Ewigman (6-1, 180) are good hands guys at receiver and tight end respectively.
The defense allowed a meager 12.7 points per game last season---an overtwenty point differential. The Tigers lost All-State linebacker Dakota Lewis to graduation so that will be a hole to fill, but they have several talented players returning. "We return 3 of 4 LBs and 2 of our DBs. This group will need to be leaders on defense," said Coach O'Laughlin. Duane Avila probably steps into Lewis' leadership role at linebacker. Avila recorded 50 solo tackles and over 70 assists and he had three tsacks and an interception. He earned 1st Team All-Conference and 2nd Team All-District. Also returning at linebacker are Daniel Corbin and Dylan Ewigman. Corbin recorded over 50 tackles with an interception, while Ewigman compiled over 40 tackles and 2.5 sacks. These guys can play sideline to sideline. Blake Linebaugh will start at safety again after racking up almost 80 tackles with five interceptions. Sophomore Dalton Fisher (5-7, 140) will start at corner after a productive freshman campaign, with 60 tackles and an INT.
The D-line has only one starter returning in senior Cade Ewigman (6-0, 180). But it also has two seniors stepping into starting roles. Mike Arnold (6-1, 240) is a defensive tackle who "plays with a high motor." Mike Anders (6-0, 180) is a defensive end who coach says, "works hard every play." On both sides "Determination will be key," according to Coach O'Laughlin, and that determination starts with the experienced Ewigman.
The coaching staff loves the players that they have inherited. "The players have worked hard in the off-season with great attitude," Coach O'Laughlin said. "Our goal will be to strive and win another District title," concludes the coach. Their district and conference wins will always be hard fought and well deserved. The Tigers know they have some work ahead of them, and going with a new coach and the system adjustments might be the biggest challenge, but they are ready for the new season and a new chance to prove themselves. Some on this Tiger team proved themselves last season with a State runner-up. They may need to overachieve to repeat that this year, but they certainly have talent and ability on their side once again.
Pigskin Pick: 7-2