HJ: Now that you're entering your second season at the helm of the Marceline program, what can you say has changed or benefitted you from your inaugural year? How does having a deeper foot in the community help you lead a football program?
MR: I think that getting a better chance to know your kids going into the season and having a better understanding of the opponents on the schedule make a huge difference in preparing for the season. Again, I would say that being able to establish relationships with people in the community makes things a lot easier in setting up camps, preparing for Friday nights, and everything in between. The support in this community is absolutely amazing.HJ: You lost a ton of talent from last year's team: one of the smartest quarterbacks in all of Class 1, a Swiss army knife in all three phases in Clayton Stallo, a lot of size up front, and two-way seniors like Desmond Fessler who could break games open in a snap. Is this year more about rebuilding or reloading? MR: I never like the term rebuilding, because hopefully you're always building for the future in the offseason and JV games, so I guess I would have to say it's more of a reloading year for us. We've got a lot of great young talent on this team along with a good group of seniors and juniors who will be major contributors next year. We had several young guys who could have helped us last year, but we were just so deep with that class of seniors. A lot of these guys took a ton of varsity snaps last year in the second half of several of our games, so I think that has helped prepare them for this season. HJ: Furthermore, what are some names that casual Marceline fans might not have heard before, but are expected to make big impacts? MR: I don't think there's just a couple of individuals to point out because we only return three starters on offense and defense, which are the same three guys. We've got so many position battles going on right now and it's going to be fun to see these guys compete. We've got some new faces in transfer kids, kids coming back from injury, and guys that didn't play last year. HJ: How, in your mind, does this Marceline team finally get over the district hump and make a deep playoff run? MR: We missed a great opportunity last year, but that's in the past. These boys work extremely hard and always want to find ways to improve. We're extremely excited about this upcoming season and the boys have been putting in the work now so that when the season comes they're bigger, faster, and stronger than before. HJ: How have your guys progressed in the offseason, both in terms of speed/strength and in terms of understanding schemes and their roles within those schemes? MR: Scheme has been a lot easier in year two. Our terminology is all the same on every side of the ball. We've tweaked things that benefit the strength of the team this year, which we are very excited about. We've missed a lot of opportunities this year due to all the rain in the early part of the summer, but the boys have taken a lot of mental reps and as we're getting on the field more it's starting to really show how much further advanced we are. In terms of strength and speed, I have 99% of the football team in class, so they've been putting in the work since last season ended. As a team, we're far stronger and faster as a whole. Some of our seniors that departed had some of those intangibles in terms of leadership and things that they could do on the field, but it's been exciting to watch these guys grow and fill some of those voids. HJ: What did last week's camp look like? MR: We treated things as day one in terms of installing offense and defense. We really focused in on the details of the schemes and continued to get more individual work to improve. We installed all of our special teams units this week as well in preparation for the season. It has to play an equal role on this team, just like the offense and defense. We look at camp as an opportunity to teach everything from part-part-whole mindset.
HJ: On a tangential note, what are some of the difficulties you face juggling being both head football coach as well as athletic director? MR: It definitely pulls you both ways, there are things you have to do on game days that some coaches aren't doing and sometimes that even means when football practice is over you head to a softball game or a middle school football game. However, we believe as a staff that it is equally important to support all of the programs at Marceline and we try to get to as many activities as we can as it is. They cheer us on during games on Friday nights and it is important for us to support them as well. Ultimately, it just becomes part of how you do things, and my goal is to see every program at Marceline R-V succeed.