By Phil Stacey
---- — Keeping things simple and at a steady pace seems to be working wonders for the Marblehead High football team thus far.
A lot of familiar faces back means good things for the Magicians, who will field a slew of players with game experience.
Four pass catchers who started are back as well as a fifth who saw plenty of reps. Brian Daly and captain Dylan Cressy will line up wide on opposite sides of the line, while fellow captain Jeremy Gillis is back as an all-star in the slot. Will Millett (6-foot-3, 205 lbs.) is a big target at tight end, and Trey Blackmere will showcase his skills at wideout.
Brooks Tyrrell, who got significant snaps as a sophomore tailback (612 yards and 8 TDs on 110 carries) returns in the backfield. His backup, senior Ben Anderson, can expect to see an increased role.
“For maybe the first time ever, we feel solid in the skill positions,” said Rudloff.
Quarterback has four players in the mix for the starter’s job, with junior Spencer Craig and senior Matt Millett the forerunners. Millett was the backup QB as a sophomore but missed all of last season with a broken collarbone suffered in lacrosse in the spring of 2012. Two sophomores, Beau Dana and Garrett Keough, have also impressed under center.
The Magicians’ third captain, Liam Gillis (Jeremy’s cousin), returns at offensive guard alongside guard/center Trevor Gelineau. Senior Tom Koopman will have an impact somewhere in the trenches; although injuries have derailed him in the past, Rudloff said he’s so versatile that Koopman will wind up starting wherever he’s needed on the O-line.
Senior Crandall Maxwell is fighting for one of the other starting spots on the line along with a quartet of juniors: Derek Dumais, 6-foot-4, 225-pound Dan Marino, Christian Rudloff and Tommy Gable.
Moving to a 4-4 as its base defense this season, Marblehead will employ a rotation of Gelineau, Maxwell, Koopman, Dumais, Marino and Gable up front. Anderson will get a chance to start at linebacker alongside Craig, Tyrrell and Will Millett. Cressy, Daly, Blackmere, Matt Millett, Gillis, senior Dean Fader and sophomore Mark Cohen have all gotten equal reps in the defensive backfield.
“We have the kids who can execute what we want to do this year defensively,” said Rudloff, whose team opens the 2013 season tonight on the road in Danvers. “We want to be a lot more multiple this season.”