Marion Pleasant has been a power team for virtually the entirety of
20-year head coach Chris Kubbs’ tenure at the school. Certainly he can
claim much of the credit for that success and consistency. However, you
can’t win year after year without standout players, and Pleasant has
had its share. This year is no exception.
Marion Pleasant (10-2)
* Players To Watch – TE/DE Brad Harrah (6-7, 240, Sr.); DB/WR Cory Nielson (6-2, 185, Sr.); OT/DT Tony Good (5-10, 255, Jr.); QB Cory Kubbs (6-0, 185, Sr.); SE David Carroll (6-2, 175, Sr.); RB Brandon Slade (5-10, 195, So.).
* Outlook – Marion Pleasant has been a power team for virtually the entirety of 20-year head coach Chris Kubbs’ tenure at the school. Certainly he can claim much of the credit for that success and consistency. However, you can’t win year after year without standout players, and Pleasant has had its share.
This year is no exception as the Spartans have to replace a lot of departed starters but have proven talent in some key spots.
For example, there aren’t too many prospects in Division IV who are on par with Harrah, a hulking youngster who already is committed to play major college ball for Big East member Cincinnati.
“He had about 10 to 12 Division I offers,” Marion Pleasant assistant coach Aaron Cook said. “He’s a 4.0 student and just a great talent and we need to make sure he’s a big part of what we’re doing.”
Fortunately for the Spartans, that shouldn’t be a problem since the quarterback is Cory Kubbs, who will log his third year on the varsity at Pleasant and for his father.
“Cory is a smart kid,” Cook said. “He’s a coach’s son so he plays hard and with intelligence just like you’d expect. He knows our offense inside and out.”
The younger Kubbs, though, will be stepping into the starting quarterback role for the first time now that the fantastic career of Cody Harris is completed.
“He was all-state last year and broke every school record we have for a quarterback,” Cook said.
Even with the change at quarterback and the departure of three running talents and two-way stars in Cory Snyder, Kyle Beck and Jake Lawrence, the Spartans aren’t likely to panic. In fact, it’s just not in their nature.
Pleasant has won the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference 17 straight times and also has overcome opening-season, nail-biter losses to St. Henry the last two seasons. The Spartans were nipped 14-13 at home by St. Henry last August then ripped off nine convincing wins in a row to earn the No. 3 seed in Region 14. The Spartans proceeded to take out Pemberville Eastwood in the playoffs before losing 28-21 in overtime to Ottawa-Glandorf.
“We dropped a TD pass on the last play of the game,” Cook said. “That was tough.”
That no doubt left followers of the program wondering “what if,” especially considering how senior-laden the Spartans were last season. Amazingly, Harrah, Nielson and Good are the team’s only returning starters after the loss of 19 seniors, four of whom are now on scholarship at the next level. Still, Cook said at least a dozen other players are returning lettermen like Kubbs.
Charged with replacing Lawrence – a four-year starter at both running back and linebacker and an all-state performer in 2007 and ’08 – is Slade, a young and shifty back who could greatly help the outlook with a breakout season.
“We have some shoes to fill, obviously,” Cook said. “We’ve got some weapons, though. Nielson will play some tailback, too. He’s by far our best athlete. He can dunk it on the basketball court any way you want.”
Carroll is another skill player who is ready to make an impact.
“We expect a good year from him.” Cook said. “He’s a track kid who has come on for us and gotten stronger.”
And, again, the Spartans have a knack for figuring out how to succeed with new faces.
“We’ve been blessed with that at Pleasant,” Cook said. “And Coach Kubbs has been here for 20 years, so he knows what he’s doing.
“We have ‘state’ written all over our locker room. Anything short of a MOAC title and a playoff appearance and our kids would be disappointed. Our kids don’t want to be the class to let down the program and go 5-5. We want to be 10-0 every year.
“I remember in 2001 we were the state runner-up and we lost 23 seniors and people figured we’d struggle. In 2002, we won it.”
Pleasant’s path to another postseason run will have to take place in Region 15 this year and begins with a Saturday night return engagement with St. Henry on the road.
“Our kids will be pretty enthused for that one,” Cook said.
The second roadie is at Delaware Buckeye Valley, a Division III school.
Among the key home games is a Sept. 25 date with Sparta Highland, a postseason participant in 2008.
Aug. 29 – at St. Henry
Sept. 4 – Galion Northmor
Sept. 11 – at Delaware Buckeye Valley
Sept. 18 – at Richwood North Union
Sept. 25 – Sparta Highland
Oct. 2 – Morral Ridgedale
Oct. 9 – Mount Gilead
Oct. 16 – at Cardington-Lincoln
Oct. 23 – at Caledonia River Valley
Oct. 30 – Marion Elgin