A Fayette unit that gave the Marceline Tigers' football team all sorts of troubles in the first half of last year's game is mostly still intact, including its most dangerous weapon. Marceline heads for Fayette on Friday.
Number 32, Isaiah Estes, returns as feature back and middle backer for the Falcons, and the Tigers will surely have to key in on him in order to avert the same early-game drubbing that befell them at home last season.
"He's one of the best backs in our conference, if not all of Class 1," first-year Marceline coach Mark Ross said. "You won't bring him down with an arm tackle, so we have to wrap up and get him going backwards. That'll be critical for us in getting their offense off of the field. Defensively, he gets through those little gaps that you don't see on film. He's a great player who anyone would love to have."
Marceline need be wary also of junior running back Dawson Wiswall, number 10. Wiswall is a change-of-pace back who can gain serious upfield yardage when the hulking, 221-pound Estes is not receiving the football.
Last season, the Falcons jumped all over the Tigers before a Clayton Stallo kick-return touchdown just before the half. From that point onward, Marceline controlled the game, but the early-game struggle gave the Tigers their first real scare of the 2017 season.
"I watched last year's game, and you can see how they jumped all over us," Ross said. "Their game plan hasn't changed at all, they want to control the clock and keep us off of the field. They'll never punt on fourth down, and they love onside kicks. They want the ball in their offense's hands, so we have to do a good job of getting a few stops and getting things rolling."
Fayette enters the game 3-0 with victories over Carrollton, Scotland County, and Schuyler County. The Falcons have won each game by greater than 30 points.