Tigers to kick of season at Morgan on Friday night
Marietta High has had Morgan High’s number in five straight non-conference football season openers since the series was resumed in 2009.
The Jason Schob-coached Tigers are hoping to extend that winning streak to six when they play the Derek Bragg-led Raiders in McConnelsville Friday at 7 p.m. The blue and gray obviously will be looking to halt that streak on its gridiron.
“We have talked all summer about changing the culture of Marietta football and it is important for us to start strong this season and play well week 1 against. Morgan,” Schob said.
Both Schob and Bragg will be in their first-year at the helm.
Last season, Marietta downed Morgan 41-28 at Don Drumm Stadium. The year before, it was the orange and black, 41-35, in McConnelsville.
“We have beat Morgan the last few years but Coach Bragg has the kids at Morgan playing hard right now so our kids need to come ready to play this Friday,” Schob said.
If the 2014 preseason is any indication, Marietta will again be the team to beat. The Tigers looked sharp in scrimmages against Barnesville and John Marshall, while the Raiders were flat versus Fort Frye and Warren.
In a game that counts, it could be a different story.
Marietta junior quarterback John Henry will start his second consecutive season lid-lifter. A year ago, he completed 4-of-8 passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns of 68 and 31 yards.
“John is going to be our starting QB,” Schob said. “Both kids (Henry and Trent Dawson) did a tremendous job this off-season and we felt as a staff that this puts is in the best position to win both offensively and defensively. Trent will be starting defensively at cornerback this year.”
In last year’s game, the Tigers workhorse was Austin Jones, who rushed for 123 yards on 12 carries and two TDs of 1 and 20 yards. Jones is back for his senior season, and should have the Morgan defense’s undivided attention.
Marietta is planning on being more run-oriented this campaign, and players like Garrett Davis, Aaron Elliott, and Bernard Johnson should get their share of touches as well. All three had long TD runs in the Tigers’ two exhibition contests.
“We’re very fortunate this year,” said Schob after the Barnesville scrimmage. “We’ve got some kids if they hit a crease they can hit a home run at any time.”
Added Henry, “I like the offense we’re running this year – a lot of movement. Our line has definitely improved this year. They’re a lot more disciplined and focused. We may not be that big in size but we make up for it in quickness and intelligence.”
A couple of Tiger linemen to keep an eye on will be center Darnell Kimbrough and left tackle Austin Yoak.
“Both graded out at over 90 percent (vs. Barnesville),” Schob said.
Morgan meanwhile struggled in its scrimmages. In last Friday night’s Jamboree game at Warren, the Raiders were trounced 33-8.
The blue and gray managed just 44 yards of total offense, 43 via the pass, while the defense gave up 349 yards.
Morgan averted a shutout in the fourth quarter when freshman QB Dakota Leopold hit fellow frosh Chris Langerman with a 23-yard scoring strike. Caden Williams, another freshman, scored on the 2-point conversion.
Junior Brayden Hoskinson is expected to be the starting signal caller against Marietta. One of the Raiders’ key running backs will be 5-foot-10, 175-pound senior Mike Apperson.
And, one of Morgan’s linemen to keep an eye on will be 6-4, 260-pound senior Kade Mayle.
“When they (Morgan) are on offense they run a lot of pistol read option,” Schob said. “Last time we played there, their read option gave us fits and it is very important for us to play sound assignment football this week.”