CANTON - When first-year Marietta College football head coach Andy Waddle stepped up to the podium during OAC Media Day Tuesday at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, he talked about a change in the attitude and culture of Pioneer football.
"There's a new staff, a new energy," said Waddle, one of five first-year coaches in the Ohio Athletic Conference. "I think that we have a great staff, a staff I'm proud to be associated with.
"We want to go out onto the field and get better every week. I hope that when we kick-off the season, that we've gotten better through camp. I certainly hope that throughout the season you see a better team each week as you see Marietta on the field."
JORDAN HOLLAND The Marietta Times
Pioneer senior linebacker Jake Hammer speaks during OAC Media Day Tuesday at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton.
After going winless in 2012, coaches and the media ranked the Pios last and second to last, respectively, in the preseason polls.
However, that doesn't sway the mentality of the senior linebacker Jake Hammer.
"Coming off the season we had last year, there's only one way to go," said Hammer, who led the OAC in tackles a year ago. "I think we have the players, and now we have the coaching staff, to really turn this program around. Coach Waddle did a great job of putting a coaching staff together that can make us a very successful program."
The reigning NCAA Division III national champions, Mount Union was ranked at the top of the OAC by both the coaches and the media. Also in both polls, Heidelberg was ranked second, Baldwin-Wallace third, Otterbein fourth, John Carroll fifth, Ohio Northern sixth, Muskingum seventh and Capital eighth. Wilmington was ranked ninth in the coaches' poll and 10th in the media poll.
For Marietta, there is reason to believe that 2013 could provide some excitement.
MC returns its quarterback, top two receivers, entire offensive line and best defensive player from a year ago. Marietta's roster will feature 20 seniors and 31 returning lettermen, so experience will not be a problem.
Senior wide receiver Kirby Harris, a two-time All-OAC performer, thinks Marietta could surprise some people and has set lofty goals for himself and the team.
"I hope we start every week 1-0," he said.
"We want to try and win every game throughout the season. For me personally, just want to do whatever I can for the team. I feel like if I do my job and everybody else does their job, we'll all flow."
Last fall, five of the 10 OAC teams finished with a winning record, so Waddle knows how tough the conference will be. He is hoping the Pioneers can still leave a mark in his first season at the helm.
"I just hope that when you see Marietta in the future, you see a team that is relentless in their effort," Waddle said, "and no matter what the score is, that you'll see a team that fights. And you turn on the tape, you see a team that, ahead or behind, is playing their hearts out."