Sports Talk: Marietta Tigers’ 2013 football slate challenging

Hard to believe, but Marietta High’s football program has not posted a winning gridiron campaign since 2002.

That seems like forever ago.

Maybe this season will be different, but then again….

One thing that will basically remain the same from last year, except for one game, is the 2013 schedule. This fall, instead of playing River View, the Tigers will be matched up against Williamstown.

The MHS slate features three home games at Don Drumm Stadium to kick off the season and three more at the same venue to close it out. In between, the Tigers will be on the road four straight Friday nights.

Looking at the orange and black schedule, Marietta starts out with five consecutive non-conference games and finishes with five straight East Central Ohio League (ECOL) opponents.

Of the 10 foes, eight are Ohio prep schools, and two are from West Virginia.

After going 1-9 last season, Marietta will be in a lot of “payback” games this upcoming fall. Let’s take a brief look at the schools on the Tigers’ schedule this upcoming fall.

Aug. 30 MORGAN 7:30 p.m.: Marietta’s lone win in 2012 was a thrilling 41-35 come-from-behind, second-half effort at McConnellsville. The Raiders are expected to have both 6-foot, 240-pound running back Justin Head and quarterback Kyle Earich back, and they will be a challenge for the Tigers’ defense. This game has smashmouth written all over it, and could be similar to last year’s contest.

MHS has not lost to Morgan since the series was resumed in 2010.

Sept. 6 WARREN 7:30 p.m.: This of course is the Washington County big school rivalry. With Dylan Leffingwell graduating, the Warriors will have a new quarterback taking center snaps. They’ll also have some other skills peoples’ shoes to fill, but overall look solid in the trenches.

Marietta has dropped two straight decisions to Warren, including last year’s 35-7 drubbing in Vincent.

Sept. 13 WILLIAMSTOWN 7 p.m.: While Williamstown is a Class A school in W.Va., it has a football tradition under the guidance of Terry Smith, The Yellowjackets are consistently a postseason contender and should be plenty tough for Ohio Division II MHS. Hopefully, because of the proximity of Don Drumm Stadium, this game will be the beginning of an annual series between the two schools.

Sept. 20 at Gallia Academy 7:30 p.m.: This will be Marietta’s first road game of the season. This also has always been a tough game for the Tigers.ever since they played the Blue Devils in the Southeastern Ohio Athletic League. Last year, the orange and black took it on the chin 63-13 at Don Drumm. Maybe this fall, the Tigers can return the favor.

Sept. 27 at PHS 7:30 p.m.: Parkersburg High is one of the biggest, if not the biggest Class AAA high schools in W.Va. The Big Reds have a storied history on the gridiron, and have long dominated the series against MHS – and now they get to host the Tigers at Stadium Field. Last year, though, Marietta was a real handful, dropping a 26-21 decision to the visiting red and white, which finished with a subpar 4-6 overall record.

If the law of averages applies here, then the Tigers are due – actually long overdue.

Oct. 4 at Cambridge 7 p.m.: Marietta kicks off league play at Cambridge, which drilled the Tigers 41-7 last season. The Bobcats, 6-4 in 2012, are expected to be good again, but then MHS should be better, too.

Oct. 11 at Rosecrans 7 p.m.: Rosecrans is a small, Ohio D6 school in Zanesville, which D2 Marietta should never lose to but did 10-0 last year at Don Drumm. The Bishops obviously have good athletes and are well-coached. This will be no gimme game for the Tigers. They’re going to have to earn it.

Oct. 18 NEW PHILADELPHIA 7 p.m.: Marietta is back on its home turf for the rest of the season, starting with New Philly, which won a 34-0 decision last year. The Quakers again should be another challenge for the Tigers,

Oct. 25 DOVER 7 p.m.: Another toughie, to say the least. Last year, the Tornadoes won 48-0.

Nov. 1 ZANESVILLE 7 p.m.: Last year, after being blanked in three straight games, the Tigers got on the scoreboard in their season finale at ZHS. Problem was, it wasn’t nearly enough as the Blue Devils won 39-6.

Ron Johnston is the Marietta Times sports editor and can be reached at 376-5441, or at rjohnston@mariettatimes.com