What's new: Training program
After participating in a shortened version of it last year, the Mariner football team dove head first into a hardcore running program put on by Jordan James of Everett Sports Performance.
The Marauders hope the results show up on the field this fall.
Starting in June, 40-45 Mariner football players would join James at Goddard Stadium and run through a number of speed and agility drills for 11/2 hours.
"The kids responded. Our kids came back a little faster and in outstanding condition," Mariner head coach John Ondriezek said.
There's two important reasons for Mariner to be in great shape: stamina and health. The Marauders numbers are down slightly, meaning that they can't afford injuries and the players who are healthy likely will play both ways.
"That's big for us because we don't have a lot of depth, so we need our kids to be in top shape and cut down on injuries," Ondriezek said.
"The offseason is when you win football games," he added.
Returning All-Wesco players
Josh Williamson, RB, 1st; Curtis Billen, OL, 2nd
Player to watch: Joshua Williamson, RB
When he was a sophomore, Williamson learned how to really work from then-teammate KeiVarae Russell.
"I learned a lot from his work ethic," Williamson said, referring to the now Notre Dame defensive back. "He works really, really hard."
Williamson, who played a small role on that team, has seen his stock explode after a strong junior campaign in which he rushed for 1,139 yards and 20 touchdowns while sharing tailback duties with Kiante Ahmad-Woods. This year, Williamson will be the bell cow for Mariner's run-based offense.
"He should be one of the top backs in the area if not the state," Ondriezek said. "He's an impact back. He's strong and explosive and he's got some speed. He'll be our top running back."
Now Williamson is the upperclassmen trying to impart wisdom to a pair of inexperienced runners in Dyonte Law and Quinton Friendly.
"In the classroom first; do that before you do the field," Williamson said of the advice he's given them.
Fresh face: Nick Smith, QB
The senior signal-caller takes over for Dan Nadat, who led the Mariner offense last year. Smith doesn't have starting experience but he's been in the program four years and was a backup to Nadat last year.
"He's disciplined, responsible," Ondriezek said. "I'm pleased with his progress. He does a lot of things well and doesn't make a lot of mistakes. He's kind of waited his turn."
Mariner returns one of the best tailbacks in the area and a lot of experience along the offensive line, including Octayvien Sapp, Curtis Billen, Adrian Releford and Conner Griffin.
So you can bet that the Marauders will do what they always do: pound the rock.
If Smith can do a good job of running the offense and a young defense can learn quickly, the Marauders should be right in the thick of the 4A South playoff race.
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