ALLIANCE, Ohio (WKBN) – Marlington took a step back in 2020 by finishing 3-5 and in the middle of the pack of the Eastern Buckeye Conference.
The Dukes began the season with a 3-2 mark before falling in each of their last 3 games.
“We have a veteran group coming back,” states coach Mark Gulling – who served two years as an offensive coordinator for Marlington before eventually taking over the reigns as head coach after the 2018 campaign. “Our expectations are to compete with everyone on our schedule.”
The Dukes return 8 starters on offense and 8 on defense this coming season.
Gulling says, “Danny Grimes, Connor Evanich and Sam Dine were all voted as team captains last season. They’ll continue to be our leaders this season as well.”
Marlington kicks off the 2021 season with a meeting at home with Coventry.
2020 Record: 3-5 (3-2, T-3rd place in EBC)
Coach: Mark Gulling, 3rd season (10-8)
Previewing Marlington’s Offense
Scoring Offense: 20.3 (comparable to 42nd in Area)
Returning Starters: 8
Key Returnees: Connor Evanich, SR/QB; Danny Grimes, SR/OL; Max Heavner, JR/WR; Cooper Scarlott, SR/WR; Rome Sims, SR/WR
Key Losses: Evan Bland, OL; Isaiah Harrison, OL; Nolan Hooker, RB
Name to watch for: Connor Evanich, QB
Marlington welcomes back their starting quarterback Connor Evanich, who missed 3 games last year. Evanich completed 61 of 128 passes (47.7%) for 910 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Connor will have his top three receivers, from a year ago. Rome Sims led the team in receptions (35), receiving yards (615) and touchdowns (6). Cooper Scarlott caught 21 passes for a team-high 18.6 yards per catch (3 TDs). Max Heavner hauled in 14 passes as a sophomore.
The Dukes will miss their 1,000-yard rusher Nolan Hooker, who graduated. Hooker ran for 1028 yards on 204 carries (5.0 avg).
Marlington welcomes back three starters (Danny Grimes, Zach Dine and Walter Bungard). “We’re stronger than what we’ve been the last few years up front,” says Gulling. “Ben Lacher, Caden O’Brien, Lee Hall, Tyler Fincher and Beau Bratton will all be competing for spots and should provide us with some nice depth.”
Previewing Marlington’s Defense
Scoring Defense: 26.8 (comparable to 39th in Area)
Returning Starters: 8
Key Returnees: Sam Dine, SR/DL; Danny Grimes, SR/LB; Christio’n Hicks, SR/DL; Caden McFarland, JR/LB; Rome Sims, SR/DB; Luke Tortola, SR/LB
Key Losses: Nolan Hooker, DB
Name to watch for: Sam Dine, DL
The Dukes return plenty of experience along the first two levels (defensive line and linebackers). Sam Dine and Christio’n Hicks are back at the defensive end positions. Inside, the team returns Zach Dine and Lee Hall. At the linebacker spots, Caden McFarland and Danny Grimes will be welcomed back along with Luke Tortola. Cornerback Rome Sims returns for his senior year also.
“Our strength lies up front,” states Gulling. “We return six of our front seven. We should be strong inside the box and tough against the run.”
Sam Dine led the team in quarterback sacks a year ago with 7. Linebacker Grimes finished with 84 tackles while Tortola recorded 62. Corner Sims tied for the team-lead in interceptions with 2.
2020 EBC Standings
West Branch – 5-0 (8-2)
Canton South – 4-1 (5-3)
Carrollton – 3-2 (7-3)
Marlington – 3-2 (3-5)
Salem – 3-3 (5-6)
Alliance – 1-5 (2-8)
Minerva – 0-6 (2-8)
Aug. 20 – Coventry
Aug. 27 – Northwest
Sept. 3 – at Ridgewood
Sept. 10 – at West Branch
Sept. 17 – at Minerva
Sept. 24 – Canton South
Oct. 1 – Salem
Oct. 8 – New Philadelphia
Oct. 15 – at Carrollton
Oct. 22 – Alliance