John Marshall wants to win in the trenches


For The Times Leader

GLEN DALE –In his second year as head coach of his alma mater, Jason Willis looks for his team to dominate in the trenches.

Last season ended with a first-round exit in the playoffs at the hands of Musselman and with a focus on controlling the line of scrimmage, Willis is looking for a return trip to the postseason and perhaps an even deeper run.

“Hopefully we can control the line of scrimmage,” Willis said. “That’s what we do the best. We’ll try to run the ball and try to eat the clock, while still able to throw the ball.

“We’re confident in our throwing abilities and if we can shore up the defensive line and get stops, I think we’ll be all right.”

The big men up front for the Monarchs claimed another Shadyside Big Cat Lineman Challenge and have been working hard all offseason.

“We’ve had a lot of success in the offensive line challenge,” Willis said. “We’ve won it four or five years in a row.

“The guys have been here working all summer and have put a lot of time in the weight room and have been out here conditioning. We’re definitely excited.”

Leading the offensive line will be Bradlee Clark, Zach Birkett, Hunter Johnson, Zack Leach and Marshall Cross.

“We have Zach Birkett at tackle and Bradlee Clark is playing some center for us but he has played guard,” Willis said. “Both are really good guys that we have back.

“We have some guys that we are confident in to fill the other three positions that will do well. Hunter Johnson is coming back, Zack Leach is working at guard and Marshall Cross, too.

“We have some depth there so I think we’ll be all right.”

Adding to that depth on both the offensive and defensive lines are John McGlumphy, Brayden Hagedorn, Grant Neiswonger, Michael Murphy, Austin Ruckman, Nate Reynolds, Tyler Truex, Alex Francis, Colby Cubic, Lucas Robinson, Logan Bandy, Jesse Riding, Austin Moore, Cole Porter, Jordan Rouse and Jayden Watson.

The Monarchs will have some shoes to fill after losing standouts such as Chas McCool, Hunter Temple and Jordan Wood.

Also gone after strong senior campaigns are David Clayton, John Davis, Alec Edge, Jakob Gardill, Shane Hercules, Hayden Kaschke, Gavin Lockhart, Devin Norris, Trey Moore, Austin Purcell, Roy Rayl, Zach Tschappat, Brady Williams and Austen Yurcina.

Despite losing such talent and leadership, the Monarchs bring back 21 seniors for the upcoming season.

“They all have experience,” Willis said of his returners. “We’re in good shape there.

“Guys like McCool, Temple and Jordan Wood were good leaders and had experience and we’re going to miss them but it’s the next guy up. Players have to step up and play positions and that’s what we’re looking for.”

With Wood gone at quarterback, Willis will be looking for a new gunslinger to lineup behind center.

His options?

Seniors Justin Frohnapfel and Wyatt Hill have been proving themselves each day in practice and during the offseason. Willis can’t go wrong with either calling the shots.

“Justin Frohnapfel and Wyatt Hill have been battling it out for QB,” Willis said. “Both of those guys looked really well all summer. We did some 7-on-7 and we were pleased there, too.”

Whoever is chosen at quarterback will have a talented backfield to hand the ball off to as senior Michael Mason and junior Alex Burton will each see plenty of carries.

“Alex had a lot of carries for us last year,” Willis said. “He had one game with 275 yards and caught our eyes as he worked his way in and Mike is also a very hard worker so we’re confident there.”

Along with Mason and Burton at tailback, Willis will also have options at the fullback position.

Senior Jace Boggs, junior Dalton Flowers and sophomore Nate Menendez will all see time there.

The Monarchs will have plenty of targets to choose from but they won’t wow the defense with size.

“We have a ton of wide receivers,” Willis said. “We have a bunch of guys working in there that we are confident in and who run good routes with good hands.

“They’re not the biggest bunch of guys but we are confident that we will be able to catch the ball this year.”

Leading the receiving corp will be seniors Ethan Gray, Zach Bishop and Izak Babiczuk, with juniors Bryce Rayl and Reid Wiley expected to make large contributions.

Joining them as threats in the passing game are seniors Dakota Bonds and Harry Galloway, juniors Derrick Derrow and Nate Fish, sophomores Andrew Kettler, Patrick Ostrander, Noah Beckett and Koda Moore.

Seniors Hunter Purcell and Chase Walton, along with juniors Langston Hupp and Blake Callahan and sophomores Gage Hoskins and Austin Thacker will serve as viable tight ends.

Gray and sophomore Riley McIntyre are projected to handle the kicking duties.

There are still some holes to fill on the defensive line but Willis is excited about what he has coming back in the secondary.

“We have some guys back in the secondary and some linebackers back, too,” Willis said. “We are confident there.

“(Senior) Colby Cubick is back on the defensive line but there are some holes on the line that we have to get filled.

“We do have a lot of linemen that move in and out and get reps so I think we’ll be alright.”

Lining up at linebacker for the Monarchs will be seniors Jacob Armstrong and Izak Wiley, along with juniors Callahan and Flowers, sophomores Jared Kerekes, Hoskins, Kaden Shriner, Menendez and Ben McCardle and freshman Jacob Coffield.

The ball hawks in the secondary will consist of Frohnapfel, Hill, Bonds, Gray, Babiczuk, Mason, Galloway, Bishop, Boggs, Derrow, Matthew Tschappat, Reid Wiley, Rayl, Fish, Burton, Kettler, Ostrander, Beckett and Koda Moore.


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