Updated Thu, Sep 19, 2013 4:51 pm
A bye in week two tends to be earlier than most teams would prefer, but for the Marietta Pioneers, it provided a chance to regroup before commencing Ohio Athletic Conference play. Marietta’s opening non-conference duel with Case Western Reserve revealed that building this team into a contender will take more than a new coach and a new system.
Time and experience are the key ingredients for success.
The Pioneers are hopeful that their opening game experience aides their cause as they prepare to battle the Capital Crusaders on Saturday at 2 p.m. in Don Drumm Stadium in Marietta.
Coach Andy Waddle and his staff chose freshman Axten Franzoy to start in the opener two weeks ago, but fifth-year senior Tom Fulton’s performance in the fourth quarter sparked a possibility that there could be a change at the top of the depth chart.
“We were impressed with what Tom did,” Waddle said. “He was prepared to go in and make some plays.”
Waddle said that both quarterbacks would see time against Capital and that he wasn’t going to hold Franzoy’s game-one showing against him. Deep into the third quarter of the opener, the Pioneers had attempted more punts than Franzoy had completed passes, but Waddle insists that there were many issues beyond the quarterback and Franzoy “was not the reason we lost.”
The Capital Crusaders finished their 2012 season at 2-8 (2-7) and seventh place in the OAC, entering the 2013 season with a new head coach and coaching staff. Not unlike Marietta, Capital fell in its opening game to Thomas More (Ky.) by a score of 20-0 and experienced multiple offensive faux pas.
Capital accumulated 147 yards through the rushing game, but its quarterbacks were a combined 4-for-11 for only 43 yards through the air. The Crusaders used two quarterbacks in the loss, Oliver Rouch and Alex Nydza, hinting that fans might see a similar dual-quarterback system from both teams on Saturday.
“They’re similar to us,” Waddle said. “They’re on a learning curve just like we’re on a learning curve.”
While each team features new coaching staffs, Waddle and the Marietta staff will play in front of the crowd at Don Drumm Stadium for the first time on Saturday and Waddle is excited to see what the crowd adds to the game.
“I’ve never been here for a game, so I’m excited to see what kind of atmosphere we have,” Waddle said. “I’ve seen the Marietta community and students come out for the basketball games and it’s a great atmosphere, so I hope it’s the same for us.”
Waddle transitioned to say that the crowd doesn’t play the game and no matter what kind of atmosphere is present, his team needs to preform better than they did two weeks ago.
“There were a number of areas that we performed under our expectations,” Waddle said. “We weren’t as physical as we wanted to be.”
Waddle continued, “This is not the Marietta of 2012. We’re still working to establish our own identity.”