Day to lead Warriors in his first Warren-Marietta rivalry game

JORDAN HOLLAND The Marietta Times A group of Marietta High defenders combine to bring down a Morgan ball-carrier during a high school football game last week in McConnelsville.

VINCENT — Warren coach Dan Day will get his first taste of the rivalry with Marietta on Friday.

The first-year coach would love nothing more than to deliver a huge victory over the Tigers when the Warriors host MHS at 7 p.m. But Day admits that he and his staff are focused on less apparent results right now.

“We don’t get paid for moral victories, we get paid for wins,” Day said. “Right now, though, it’s about building confidence with our players. I like the way the kids have responded to what we are doing as coaches. It’s not like we’re doing anything I have done all of my coaching life, but we’re seeing some real positives.”

That’s saying a lot considering Warren lost to a tough Athens squad 51-26 in the season opener last week. Even in the loss, Day said the Warriors showed some fight.

“Our kids never quit,” Day said. “Athens is really good. As good as they are, for about a quarter and a half we beat ourselves. We are coaching culture more than we are coaching Xs and Os. All of that stuff will come. Our culture here has to change. That’s why I was glad to see their response and their fight.”

Day believes Warren has something to build on considering the average scored of the Athens game over the past four years has been 59-3.

The Warriors also found their quarterback of the future in sophomore Kurt Taylor, who shined after taking over in the second quarter for Belpre transfer Brandon Simoniette. Taylor, the son of former Warren standout quarterback and assistant coach Shawn Taylor, completed 12-of-17 passes for 149 yards and three touchdowns – including a 27-yarder to Evan Gandee.

But Simoniette, who had a 100-hundred-yard interception return for a touchdown, will start at QB for the Warriors.

“(Kurt) did some really good things, but I still have a lot of confidence in Brandon,” Day said. “Brandon is going to start Friday night, but there’s probably a good chance you’ll see both.”

Marietta coach Jason Schob said they have prepared for both quarterbacks.

“We saw a couple of (Warren’s) scrimmages, and they alternated series,” Schob said. “Each quarterback brings a different element to the offense. The Simoniette kid is a quick passer and is a real running threat. Kurt Taylor has a strong arm and is more of a pocket passer.”

Gandee led the Warren receivers with five catches for 59 yards, while Tyler Schafer was the top rusher with 63 yards on 12 carries.

Warren’s defense was tested by a talented Athens’ offense, which amassed 475 total yards last Friday.

Day understands that Marietta will also be a big test.

“They’re really a fast and athletic team. You could see that across the board,” Day said. “The one thing that I was most impressed with was their defense just attacks. Those guys fly downhill and they’ll come in and smack you.”

The Tigers are coming off a huge 41-0 road victory over Morgan, which included an impressive rushing attack that resulted in 255 yards on 38 carries. Leading the way was Kory Science who had 77 yards and two touchdowns – 5- and 2-yards – on 11 carries. Tony Munos carried the ball just four times, but made the most of them with 63 yards with 49 yards coming on a TD run.

“The more I watched the film, I was pretty pleased for how we played in our first game,” Schob said. “Of course, we still have a lot to work on to get better. I think as we continue to get better we could be decent this year.”

Munos was also part of the aerial game with a 14-yard scoring reception from Corbin Alkire early in the first quarter. Daniel Long also had a 24-yard touchdown catch as Alkire finished 4-of-6 passing for 60 yards.

Marietta’s defense came up big with the shutout, but the Tigers also turned the ball over twice – one fumble and one interception.

“I thought our defense played really well,” Schob said. “I think we held Morgan to under 100 yards before our starters came out of the game.”