Marietta High's football team will be capping the 2011 campaign for a good cause when it hosts Zanesville High in an East Central Ohio League and Senior Night game at Don Drumm Stadium Friday at 7:30 p.m.
MHS (2-7 overall, 1-4 ECOl) will be wearing pink socks to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Also expected to don pink clothing will be the Tiger cheerleaders, Wall of Sound band, and orange and black student section.
"We are going to honor our few seniors, and also be supporting an effort to raise money for the (Strecker) Cancer Center at Marietta Memorial Hospital," said first-year Marietta head football coach Bob Springer.
For fans attending the contest, there will be people requesting donations at all of the entrances to Don Drumm Stadium. All of the money collected in the fundraiser will go to purchasing gasoline cards for patients with limited income being treated at the Strecker Cancer Center.
At kickoff time, Marietta is hoping for a result similar to last year's finale when it upset Warren, 33-28, in Vincent. The Chad Grandstaff-coached Blue Devils of Zanesville (5-4), even though they're currently struggling, figure to be no easy pickings.
"We've spent a lot of time looking at three of Zanesville's game," Springer said. "The most impressive was the Cambridge game in which they were behind and would have beaten them if it were not for a penalty at the very end of the game when they were about to score."
Zanesville, which started the season 5-1 and had high hopes of making the playoffs, will be trying to snap a three-game losing streak. Last Friday night, the Blue Devils suffered a 34-27 setback to Cambridge at McFarland Stadium. At one point in the contest, they trailed 21-0.
ZHS is quarterbacked by Wes Hudson, who is a threat to both pass and run the football.
"Zanesville spreads the field a lot like Dover," Springer said, "but also runs out of the true power-I and will come at you. They have a very mobile and quick QB (Hudson) who is difficult to contain. Few have done this very well. He ran all over Cambridge and New Philly - and Zanesville likes to throw the ball."
Defensively, Springer said the Blue Devils are expected to be in "both a three-front and four-front with loads of different linebacker sets."
"Zanesville has quickness," Springer said, "and perhaps more true athletes than any school we have played."
Marietta is coming off a 55-14 loss to powerhouse Dover (8-1, 4-0) last Friday night. The Tigers have dropped four in a row since beating River View in a homecoming game on Sept. 23.
MHS did play Dover even-steven in the second half as quarterback Justin Futrell threw two third-quarter touchdown passes, one of 20 yards to Geno DeMaio and another of 24 yards to Dedder Baker.
Baker actually played sparingly due to an injury. Going into the ZHS game, the Tiger tailback has 829 rushing yards.
On defense, Baker has 78 tackles and 58 assists.
During the course of the game against Dover, Marietta fullback Mitchel Gearhart was injured but is expected back this Friday night.
"Hope Mitchel can play this week," Springer said. "My bet is yes."
Both Gearhart and Baker recovered a fumble in the Dover game.
Defensively, Marietta's Michael Stewart had 11 solo tackles and two assists and Quinton Coffield was credited with seven tackles.
Austin Gaskins punted eight times for a 30.3 yard average and also blocked a Dover field goal attempt.
MHS freshman running back Austin Jones rushed for 35 yards on seven carries, and Austin Edgell "did a good job blocking," Springer said.
Injury-wise, the Tigers' disabled list includes linemen Eddie Kimbrough, Jon Hedricks and Kyle Bronski. And, Tanner Leach and Jared Tanner are questionable for Friday's contest.