Showdown: Marietta boys soccer to host arch-rival Warren tonight

Marietta High and Warren High will get to see what each team has personnel-wise early on in a boys’ soccer rivalry match at the Devola Soccer Complex at 7 p.m. tonight.

While the contest is a season opener for the Tigers (0-0-0) and a second game for the Warriors (1-0-0), it is expected to have a playoff atmosphere to it.

“Anyone who thinks that these MHS/Warren games do not mean as much anymore with the schools being in different conferences now are mistaken,” said veteran Marietta head coach Todd Morris, who will have seen 400 games with the program as a player and coach since 1992. “Marietta/Warren games are always intense, physical, emotional soccer matches that are played in front of great crowds, which creates an amazing atmosphere for high school soccer. Bragging rights are at stake – these kids know each other, they play with each other in the offseason. These games are so much fun and really do mean something. We expect nothing less from the game Thursday night.”

MHS, 11-4-3 in 2012 and the two-time defending East Central Ohio League champion, exited last season with a 2-1 overtime setback to the Andrew Johnson-coached Warriors in a sectional championship tilt in Vincent.

The Warriors, the Southeastern Ohio Athletic League winners, went on to repeat as district champions, and finished as a regional semifinalist with a 14-3-4 overall record.

Since Johnson has been at the helm, Warren has posted a combined two-year mark of 30-5-7.

Marietta owns the all-time series advantage against Warren with a dominating 45-11-6 record, including a 16-3-1 mark at the Devola venue. But the Warriors have had the upper hand in the last seven matches, going 4-2-1.

“It will be interesting to play Warren on opening night, with it also being the first day of school in Marietta, and the first game jitters and all of that,” said Morris, who guided the Tigers to preseason scrimmage triumphs over West Muskingum, Licking Valley and Circleville. “But we have a pretty experienced group and great senior leadership that should help us combat that.”

Marietta’s key booters will be All-Ohio honoree Brent Huck, and fellow seniors’ Jacob Holdren, Clay Mason, Tanner Rake, Skylar Miracle, Eric Pierce, Tanner Rake, and Brennan Uhrig. The juniors are Grant Gandor, Andrew Roberts, Ryan Teer and exchange student Max Suckel, and the sophomores will feature Justin Hammons and Owen LaBarre. Ben Dehlmow is the lone frosh to keep an eye on.

“We will line up with some combination of those players on the pitch,” Morris said. “We feel we have a lot of different options we could try.”

Warren, which has graduated 22 senior soccer players in the last two years, only has two seniors on the 2013 squad – Alex Miller and Wyatt Lynch.

“We have a big junior class,” Johnson said. “And, we also have five starters back.”

Along with Miller and Lynch, defender Aaron Mazurkiewicz, defender Seth Hall, and outside midfielder Ben Koch also got significant playing time on the pitch in 2012.

The Warriors have two junior keepers in Tyler Schewendeman and Wade Lynch.

“Overall, I’ll be moving players around,” Johnson said. “It’s going to be interesting.”

In Warren’s Monday opener at Rosecrans in Zanesville, the Warriors won 5-0 on three goals by Alex Miller. Nate Robinson and Carter Magers each added one score. Michael O’Callaghan and Magers had one assist apiece. The royal blue and white booters took 26 shots.

Schwendeman had two saves.

“We have a tremendous respect for Warren’s soccer program and their success and what Andrew has done with that program – but, they still have what we want to get back, that district crown,” Morris said.

NOTES: Marietta is 141-21-14 all-time at Devola, including 78-9-8 under the lights…Marietta and Warren have combined to win six of the last seven South East District championships (Warren: 2012,2011, 2006, Marietta 2010, 2009, 2007, and in 2008, MHS was District Runner-up to Athens.)…Marietta has won three consecutive league titles (SEOAL in 2010, ECOL in 2011 and 2012)