Marion-Franklin looking to Reed to build on last season’s success


Marion-Franklin QB Verlon Reed

Marion-Franklin was the No. 4 seed in this region last year and defeated
Columbus Beechcroft in the first round of the playoffs before falling to
Columbus DeSales (which has moved down to D-III) in the regional semifinals. This season, star quarterback Verlon Reed will try and get the Red Devils even further into the postseason.

Columbus Marion-Franklin (10-2)

* Players To Watch –
QB Verlon Reed (6-3, 193, Sr.), OT Aaron Shelton
(6-6, 320, Sr.), DT Matthew Williams (6-1, 325, Sr.), WR/SS Dominque Marsh
(5-10, 190, Sr.)

Outlook –
Marion-Franklin was the No. 4 seed in this region last year and defeated
Columbus Beechcroft in the first round of the playoffs before falling to
Columbus DeSales (which has moved down to D-III) in the regional semifinals.

Reed calls the shots at quarterback and he is ranked as the No. 78 senior in the state by Ohio High. He has scholarship offers
from Bowling Green, Kent
State, Syracuse and Toledo. As a junior in 2008, Reed threw for
1,200 yards, ran for 700 and accounted for a total of 20 touchdowns.

“He is a threat running or throwing,” head coach Brian
Haffele said. “Last year was his first year as the starting quarterback, so
that experience will make him even better this year. He started as a sophomore
at wide receiver.

“He already has some offers and I think more will be coming.
Everyone is saying Verlon is high on their board and he went to a lot of camps
this summer: Cincinnati, West
, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio
. He could be a Big
Ten type of player.

“His greatest asset is that he’s an athletic kid that plays
quarterback, but he looks to throw first. He’s added about 10 pounds of muscle
in the weight room and he’ll probably run ball more this year than last year. But
we’re multiple on offense and he’ll throw it plenty too. He has a strong arm and
is very accurate. He runs well; he’s a 4.4 kid in the 40. He can pretty much do
whatever you want him to do.

“What’s even more impressive to me is his leadership
ability. That’s what makes him a Division I quarterback recruit – his desire to
win is going to trump any physical attributes. But his physical traits are
special too.”

But it’s far from a one-man show at Marion-Franklin. The Red
Devils return all five starters on their offensive line, led by the massive Shelton.

“Aaron is getting recruited by same schools Verlon is,”
Haffele said. “They went to camps together and Aaron doesn’t have any offers
yet, but a lot of people are interested him. Physically, he’s a big kid with
great feet. He’s pretty physical. His quickness with his feet is what separates
him from other lineman.

“We feel pretty good about our O-line. We have five seniors
up front and they average 6-5, 300 pounds. Four of the five bench over 300.
We’re going to go as far as those kids take us.”

Returning to lead the defensive line is Williams who is a
player that often controls the middle of the line of scrimmage by himself.

“Matthew is completely a run-plugging D-tackle and he’s the
strongest kid I’ve ever coached,” Haffele said. “He benches 470. He’s enormous
and he’s a workaholic in the weight room. He’s the first one to arrive and the
last one to leave. He had a good summer and I think he’s going to have a big
year for us.”

One of the very few two-way starters on this deep team will
be Marsh at wide receiver and strong safety.

“Dominique is our best defensive back,” Haffele said. “He’s
strong with a 300-pound bench press and he’s a 4.4 kid in the 40. He’s probably
our second-best athlete behind Verlon. He’s very athletic and versatile.”

Haffele is confident that he has a dangerous team coming
back and with good reason. The Red Devils have a lot of talent and they’re
looking to turn up the heat on their opponents this year.

“Every year our No. 1 goal is to win our conference (Columbus
City League South),” Haffele said. “We’re fortunate enough to have won it each
of the last five years. Offensively, we have a lot of seniors. We feel good at
quarterback and on the offensive line. Most of skilled guys are underclassmen.
We’ll probably start eight juniors – all first-time starters – but four of them
played in the playoffs against Beechcroft and DeSales for us.

“We’ll be very athletic on the defensive side of the ball
this year. This could be our best team in the five years I’ve been head coach
here. This could be a special team because you don’t get a Division I quarterback
too often. It’s all about our kids working hard. If we work hard, we can
compete with anyone. We’ve got to shore up our toughness a little and it will
come with our workouts and in camp this year.”

If Marion-Franklin makes the playoffs as expected, Haffele knows
it will be tough sledding in Region 7.

“I still think it’s one of the most-difficult regions of any
division in the state,” he said. “We lose Watterson and DeSales, but we gain
Olentangy and Big Walnut. So, pick your poison. For any team to come out of
Region 7 is going to be hard. Brookhaven is back. You’ve got the powers of the
City League in the same region. So, it’s going to be a very tough region to get
out of. And there’s a lot of different variety of teams. There’s everything
from spread teams to wing-T teams.”


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