To say that the Mariner boys varsity is in a rebuilding year would be an understatement. Coach Brian Billings has a few experienced players to help with leadership, but mostly a lot of players that will need to learn to work together and play at varsity speed. With only three players with any significant varsity experience, the learning curve will be steep for us as a team.
The seniors include Jared Gove at guard who has a strong outside offense but is limited because of a knee injury last year. Matt Duddy played JV minutes last year and will work at guard here. Noah Gillen also played JV last year and will work at forward.
The juniors include Krisford Melanio who has great speed on defense and handles the ball. Noah Davis has improved his offense at guard. Paul Zoephel will play at forward and has gotten more aggressive.
The sophomores include Ethan Shepard who will spend time at center and saw a lot of action last year. Jordin Eaton will play at guard and is building his skills.
The freshmen include Nathan Oliver who has shown good skills at forward/shooting guard already. The next four freshmen will initially swing between varsity and junior varsity. They include Steve Cochrane who shows good speed at guard. Tyson Rice will play at forward. Silas Bates will see time at guard. Elliot Nevells will play at center.
The biggest challenge for this team will be learning to work together with so many new faces. There are so many question marks at this point in the season, it is impossible to know where we are going and who we will be. With so few practices under our belt, Coach Billings is not sure how well we will look later on.
Coach Billings feels we will be able to use our abundance of guards to have a different look offensively than we did last year. However, we do have several players with good size who we can incorporate into the game plan if needed. This versatility will be a definite advantage when everyone gets up to speed.
So this situation provides a lot of opportunity for the players as many of them work into new roles. The challenge will be to build some chemistry and unity quickly as the season speeds by. Coach Billings will have his work cut out for him to get everyone up to speed and has the help of Drew Eaton as assistant coach. The team will have to prove itself as it tries to find its identity. How well we do this will determine if we can improve quickly enough and have a strong second half of the season to get into the playoffs.
There is also a large junior varsity team that will be coached by Terry Siebert. Because of the large numbers and the newness of the season, I will just list the players by class at this point.
Seniors are Gordon Richardson and Lance Robbins. Juniors are Brantley Emmerick and Bobby Bottiglierie. The lone sophomore is Zach Welch. There are a large number of freshmen that do not include the swingers, who will be playing at this level as well. They are: Brendan Penfold, Devon Emmerick, Skylar Larrabee, Skylar Perez, Wade Simmons, Trey Plummer, Nathan Winchester and Robby Turner.
The challenge for Coach Siebert will be to get players game experience with such big numbers. He is also limited by a small schedule at the moment. He is hoping to get a few more games scheduled with other teams nearby so enough of these players can gain experience.