Principia at MMA FNF Week Five
|8 / 29||Van-Far||Away||Loss||6 - 22|
|9 / 5||Fulton||Home||Loss||0 - 28|
|9 / 12||Grandview||Away||Loss||6 - 27|
|9 / 19||Principia||Home||Loss||0 - 7|
|9 / 27||Harrisburg||Home||Win||48 - 10|
|10 / 3||Tolton||Away||Loss||6 - 50|
|10 / 10||North Shelby||Away||Win||48 - 12|
|10 / 17||St. Paul Lutheran||Away||Loss||14 - 56|
|10 / 24||Macon||Away||Loss||0 - 41|
It was time for a change at the Missouri Military Academy. John Noel, after four years as an assistant coach for the Colonels, will step in to head the program this season. His first task will be to turn around a program that had a 2013 campaign it would soon like to forget. The Colonels went winless last fall, finishing with a record of 0-9. They had trouble putting points on the scoreboard and difficulty keeping opponents from lighting it up. It wasn't all the result of poor play, though, as Noel notes that injuries took a major toll on the Colonels. He is even able to see the silver lining in last season. "The team saw a vast improvement from the previous year, staying in games until late in the fourth quarter, and improving statistically both offensively and defensively," he says.
Last year's offense averaged 75 rushing yards, 130 passing yards, and 10 points per game. With five starters returning to that side of the ball, Coach Noel has a nice group to work with. As with most teams, success figures to begin, and end, at the quarterback position. After starting all of last season, senior Steven Prinster (6-1, 175) figures to be the opening-game starter. The strong-armed Prinster threw for 1,300 yards and 10 TDs in 2013. This year, though, he'll be sharing snaps with senior Isaiah Adkins (6-4, 235). Adkins, big even by NFL quarterback standards, earned All-Europe honors at the position playing high school football overseas last year. His size and strength will make him a tough task for any player to bring down, and an offense based around changing the pace by switching Prinster and Adkins on and off could prove to be a handful for defenses. Senior Hugh Harris (6-3, 195) will again start at wide receiver. Harris won't lose many jump balls, and is a legitimate threat to get downfield. He should improve on the 14 catches, 208 yards, and 2 TDs he tallied last year.
It's the Colonels O-line, though, that has a chance of being an offensive force. Two starters return to anchor the line. Senior Guanging Wei (6-1, 230) and junior David Lazcano (6-0, 225) bring vital experience back to the trenches. Each has put in a good deal of time in the weight room this off-season, so moving them off the line will be an even harder task than it was in years past. Julio Romero (5-10, 200) will again get called on to play fullback. A bruiser as a blocker or a runner, Romero gathered 180 rushing yards last season. Senior Derek Ryan (5-11, 165) will get the majority of the touches at running back. Ryan has the wheels to break off long runs if he can get to the outside. Of the offense as a whole, Noel likes what he sees. "We look to have a solid core of backs this year if we remain healthy," he says. "We have a few home-run hitters at receiver and a few solid returning linemen."
Six starters return to a defensive unit that allowed 360 yards and 30 points per game last year. Noel will employ a 3-5 look for the Colonels and sees the importance of the defense starting up front. "We are an attacking defense with a lot of experience returning," he says. "We will look to stop the run first and foremost." He has some players who can do just that. As on offense, Lazcano and Wei will again anchor the D-line. In 2013, the two combined for 45 tackles, 6 for loss, and 5 sacks. Those numbers should shoot up this year.
The linebacker corps will be especially strong. Harris will again line up at outside linebacker, a position where he compiled 46 tackles and 8 for loss last season. Romero is also back at linebacker. Accruing 40 tackles and 2 sacks last year, Romero showed he is a threat to get into the backfield. Adkins, who also took All-Europe honors at LB, will mainly play OLB, making this a fearsome trio for opposing offenses. For the secondary. Prinster retains the free safety duties, where his football smarts and ability to cover large swaths of the field are crucial, and Ryan is back at CB. Ryan had an excellent 2013 campaign, getting 35 tackles, 4 for loss, 2 INTs, and 1 defensive TD. This group's talent and experience will mean far fewer points and yards surrendered in 2014.
Change is rarely sudden. The first step has been taken at Missouri Military Academy, with Noel taking over the head coaching duties. A lot will be asked of him, and he knows that. If nothing else, Noel says, "We should be exciting to watch and will match well athletically with our opponents." Change is a process. It doesn't happen overnight, or even in one season. So Noel repeats, like a mantra, "We look to continue to improve." The Colonels certainly will.
Pigskin Pick: 2-6