The Marietta College Pioneers will find out a lot about their football team Saturday at 1 p.m. when they kick off their 2014 season at Kenyon College.
Marietta is probably one of the youngest college football teams in the nation as, according to head coach Andy Waddle, "over half of our football team is first-time college football players." Combine that with a limited number of returning starters and lettermen on the roster and it's really a mystery what kind of team will be out on the field Saturday.
Along with the uncertainty surrounding his own team, Waddle said he isn't sure what to expect from the Lords either.
JORDAN HOLLAND The Marietta Times
Marietta College linemen go through a drill during a practice at Don Drumm Stadium in August. The Pioneers open regular season play Saturday when they travel to Gambier to take on Kenyon College.
"We haven't seen a lot of film on them," Waddle said, emphasizing the importance of the Pioneers focusing on their own execution.
"We've got to do a lot of things well. We want to see the offense and defense play mistake-free football but that's tough to do in game one. The team that makes less mistakes will be in the best position to win the game."
Adding to the mystery surrounding the Pios is a quarterback competition. Waddle said the position is still "pretty up in the air" with junior Lucas Havens and sophomore Akil Young the two leading candidates.
"Both do different things a little better than the other," Waddle noted, adding that it's possible both could get center snaps Saturday. Both are relatively inexperienced.
Look for a host of different players to get carries out of the backfield. The running game was a big strength for MC last year, but none of the team's leading rushers are back, opening the door for some new faces to carry the load.
Kenyon, led by head coach Chris Monfiletto, dropped its final four games of the season last year en route to finishing 4-6 overall. The Lords averaged 16.9 points per game while giving up 26 points a contest. Marietta, on the other hand, scored 15.9 points a game while allowing a whopping 44.4 a game.
The Pios were picked to finish last in the Ohio Athletic Conference by the league's coaches, and even though Saturday's matchup is a non-conference game, a win would still go a long way in setting the tone for the remainder of the season and OAC play which, for Marietta, begins Sept. 20 at Otterbein.
"They're excited and they should be," Waddle said of his players. "It's an exciting time for them. They're excited to see how they match up against an opposing team."