By David Pan Enterprise sports editor
The Meadowdale football team definitely had a lot of work to do this summer.
Graduation took a heavy toll on the Mavericks as the team lost several key components from last year’s state playoff team. Gone are quarterback Danny McDonald, running backs Naji Moore-Taylor and Sam Werner and tight end Connor Hamlett. The latter is taking his football skills to Oregon State University.
Meadowdale has changes not only on the field but on the sidelines as head coach Mark Stewart, who previously handled the offensive coordinator duties, is shifting those responsibilities to assistant coach Eric Marty, a former Mav quarterback. Marty worked with the tight ends and wide receivers last season and also was up in the booth, where he often conferred with Stewart on offensive matters.
“I’m really excited about this opportunity,” said Marty, who recently returned from Europe after leading the Danube Dragons to a victory in the Austrian Bowl. (See related story)
Stewart still will have plenty of input on offense but will have more time to spend on defense.
“He’s certainly capable,” Stewart said of Marty. “Wherever he goes, he seems to win. … We’re fortunate to have him. He’ll bring a different approach to the game.”
Marty spent a good part of the summer playing for Danube but returned home in July and joined the Mavericks at team camp in Wenatchee.
“This year we’re losing a lot of explosiveness,” Marty said. “We have a lot of big-time athletes we’re going to need to replace.”
Last year’s backup quarterback Nathan Ball moves into the starting role.
“He has a similar skill set to Danny,” Marty said. “He’s going to surprise a lot of people running around and throwing the ball.”
Ball saw some action last year but it generally was late in the game. Stewart liked what he saw from the senior-to-be quarterback at camp.
“I think we’ll be pretty solid on offense,” Stewart said. “He did a great job at quarterback. … He’s got the leadership to be a pretty good quarterback. He’s been waiting his turn. He’s working hard to have a great senior year.”
While Moore-Taylor handled the bulk of the carries in the backfield, it’s likely the workload is going to be spread out this fall. Stewart sees the running game as being more by committee at this point.
“We’ve got four or five guys we’re looking at,” Stewart said.
Two strong candidates are Kyle Gage and Michael Dever, both of who will be seniors in the fall, and junior-to-be Tyler Morehouse. Receivers include senior-to-be standouts Kegan Larsen and Anders Peterson.
While the skill positions may need some time to develop, Marty expects the offensive line to be strong.
“We may be better up-front line-wise,” he said.
Returning linemen include sophomore-to-be Nathan Cloud-Rouzan, junior-to-be Tanner Davenport-Thuet and senior-to-be Adam Bjodstrup.
“We’ve got experience there,” Stewart said.
Stewart also likes the talent on the defensive side, including juniors-to-be Kyle Newsome and Jacob Grund.
“I think we’re going to be fine,” Stewart said of the upcoming season. “We’ve got to keep working. We’re not there yet. I think we’ve figured out the direction we need to go.”