Prep Football: New challenge ahead for Maranatha Christian Schools
By Michael Bower
One year after a magical turnaround season, which ended with a mythical 8-man football section championship, Maranatha Christian Schools will take its talent to the 11-man world.
The Eagles have built its roster to 36 players and have joined the Pacific League, which includes Division V power Tri-City Christian. It will be the first full 11-man football season for the school, which played a half-season of 11-man at the junior varsity level and half at 8-man varsity two years ago.
“This is really exciting,” said third-year coach Mike Cole. “I think the level of competition is going to rise and all last year I was wondering how we would stack against these other teams. We won a championship last year and now we are the underdog all over again.”
The Eagles return nearly everyone from last season’s Sunset League championship team. Quarterback/safety Jake Kirby, who is getting looks from a few Division II colleges, is just one of a couple players on the Eagles with a chance to now show their stuff to scouts in the 11-man game.
“That was one of the main reasons we wanted to make the jump,” Cole said. “I think we have a lot of kids in that category. I think Jake has complete control of the offense and he is starting at defense. I think his play is going to shine.”
Junior linebacker Josiah Rubia should lead a strong Eagles defense, which also returns safety Michael Trent and linebacker Max Schwan. The defense is unquestionably the heart of the team.
“Our defense is going to have to carry us,” Cole said.
The offense runs the spread attack, which worked great in 8-man football and should be even better on the larger field used for 11-man football. Cole said his offensive line includes four guys over 6-foot, 2-inches tall and over 250-pounds. That should give Kirby some time to find receivers Jack Olmstead and Gray Rohde, a 6-foot-5 target.
But the Eagles know the change to 11-man football will come with bumps in the road. It won’t be all fireworks on offense like last season, when they averaged just over 50 points per game.
“I feel that we kind of have to earn out stripes a little bit,” Cole said. “We have to prove it on the field that we belong.”
Here is a quick glance at the Eagles:
Coach: Mike Cole, third year.
2011 record: 8-1, 7-0 Sunset 8-man League
Top returnees: QB/S, Jake Kirby, Sr.; RB/WR/LB, Michael Trent, Sr.; LB, Josiah Rubia, Jr.; RB, Dan Duka, Sr.; WR, Jack Olmstead, Sr.; WR/S, Max Schwan, Sr.
Top newcomers: OL/DL, Joel Batule, Jr.; OL/DE, Jeremy Tejada, Sr.; DB/RB, Steven Velazquez, Sr.; WR/S, Gray Rohde, Sr.
Key losses: OL/DL, Derek Olsen; TE/DE, Chad Rocha.
Outlook: The Eagles are set for their first full season of 11-man football in the Pacific League. Maranatha could challenge quickly since it returns nearly all of its players from last season’s 8-man mythical section championship. The spread attack averaged over 50 points per game last year. Look for the Eagles to be part of the Division V playoffs in November.
Follow Sports Editor Michael Bower on Twitter @PomeradoSports for all of the local prep news.
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