The Marietta Tigers are looking forward to the 2007 football season and hope to get over the hump after last years 4-6 finish.
Why would a team that finished under .500 a year ago expect to compete not only for a league championship but also for a Division II playoff appearance?
Because that same team finished the league season 4-3 overall and lost close non-league games to two playoff qualifiers despite losing their best defensive player in the second scrimmage of the year.
The Tigers return 12 starters (seven on offense) and the bulk of both front lines. Gone are QB Michael Groom, Marietta's all-time career receiving leader Cory Kriechbaum, three-year starting OT/DE Jimmy Flannery and K/RB Justin Estes.
However, Marietta has reason to be excited about its junior class that is big in numbers and on talent. Cody Westbrook (6-3, 160) placed at the state track meet in the high jump this past spring and will take over the QB duties in the Tigers spread-option offense.
Sean Munfield (5-11, 160) caught 21 passes for 329 yards and four TDs as a sophomore last season and Anthony Tabler (5-11, 170) returns after missing last season and should provide the Tigers with a solid running game.
Senior RB Mike Shields (5-8, 165) led the Tigers with 78 rushes for 436 yards and two scores last season. Classmate Johnny Groom (5-10, 150) will play the split back position after rushing for 134 yards and one TD and catching six balls for 118 yards.
Up front is where the Tigers will have the advantage over their Southeastern Ohio Athletic League foes with four of five starters returning. This sleek, mobile unit is perfect for the Tigers spread-option attack and is led by senior interior linemen Thomas Beringer (5-7, 215), Paul Mireles (6-1, 240) and Murphy Mitchem (5-10, 250). Junior Stratton Johnson (6-0, 225) is a returning starter at tackle and will act as a book end with classmate Nick Place (5-11, 225).
Defensively, the Tigers moved a 50-base defense in 2006 with an active and versatile OLB who can drop into pass coverage or play up against the run. Senior DL Dan Nicholson (5-8, 230), Charlie Becker (6-3, 265) and Beringer are all returning starter. Becker has lost 50 pounds since last season but kept muscle and has gotten more mobile. He has been a three-year starter for the Tigers.
Senior Ash Bloomingdale (5-11, 185) is the lone returning LB due to the ineligibility of Tyler Barnhart – who played the OLB position last fall. Shields or junior Justin Green are possible replacements for Barnhart. But if Shields moves that would leave another hole in the defensive backfield. Junior Jared Ross (5-9, 165) will also see time at LB.
Munfield is likely to add CB to his resume after only playing on offense a year ago and Shields will be one option at the other CB spot along with juniors Zane Eschbaugh (6-0, 180), Jacob George (5-11, 155) and Green.
Groom is a returning starter at S and should be joined in the back by Tabler.
For the Tigers to reach their goals, they will need to win games in the non-league schedule. If the Tigers can make that happen, they are a team that could be in playoff contention late in the season and in the thick of the SEOAL race.
Marietta 2007 Schedule
|8/24/2007||@ Parkersburg South (W.Va)||–|
|9/7/2007||@ New Philadelphia||III|
|9/14/2007||@ Vincent Warren||III|