Pioneers open on new turf Saturday vs. Geneva
Marietta College is hoping to skip the gridiron drama of last year’s non-conference season football opener when it hosts Geneva College at 7 p.m. Saturday on the newly installed blue and gray turf at Don Drumm Stadium.
A year ago at Reeves Field in Beaver Falls, Pa., the Andy Waddle-coached Pioneers had to rally for two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to edge the Geno DeMarco-led Golden Tornadoes, 26-25.
After that triumph, MC went on to post a 6-4 overall record, its first winning football campaign since 2006.
Geneva, on the other hand, finished 3-7 overall, dropping its last five games of the season.
In the 2017 lid-lifter, Marietta quarterback Darrien Fields engineered the final period comeback with touchdown passes to Alex Smith and Andrew Barker. The-then junior signal caller also hooked up with Tanner Clark for a scoring strike in the third quarter.
Fields finished last season with a single-season school record in TD throws with 21. He also passed for over 1,700 yards and threw 10 picks.
This season, Fields is one of 17 returning starters and 31 letter winners.
Fields’ primary receiving targets will probably be Ryan VanMeter, Billy Faurens, Bobby Cashaw, and Barker.
The Pioneers will certainly miss NCAA Division III All-American running back Roger Walker, who finished his career with over 4,000 yards and 52 touchdowns.
But 5-foot-11, 201-pound Clark, Walker’s backup, is expected to step up as a starter. Last season, the former Caldwell High standout gained 359 yards on the ground, including a team-high 77 against Geneva.
Clark should benefit from an experienced offensive line, which boasts two All-Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) honorees in Caleb Riggleman and Brendan Mullholland.
Defensively, look for senior linebacker Garrett Davis, a former Marietta Tiger, and outside linebacker Jake Tracewell, an ex-Williamstown Yellowjacket, to be two of the team’s top hitmen.
MC’s D is expected to have its hands full with Geneva’s preseason All-American RB Trewon Marshall. The 5-10, 175-pound Golden Tornado senior rushed for over 1,500 yards out of the triple option last season, including a game-high 201 against the Pioneers.
Marshall is one of eight returning starters on offense.
Geneva, which only attempted 10 passes against Marietta College, will have a new starting QB. The candidates are junior Luke Lloyd, freshman Drew Cramer, and freshman Anthony Cervone.
Defensively, Geneva returns nine starters, including All-Presidents’ Athletic Conference (PAC) safety Joe Shively, the league’s leading tackler a year ago.