Goddard Eisenhower has a year under head coach Marc Marinelli under its belt. In year two, the Tigers won’t be satisfied with simply taking the field. They will be playing to win.
Coach: Marc Marinelli (2nd year at Eisenhower, 2-7 with the Tigers, 23-18 overall as a head coach)
2013 Recap: 2-7 overall, 2-3 in the AVCTL Div. II, 0-3 in districts
Last season the Tigers doubled their win total from the inaugural season. A defensive battle with Maize South in Week 2 gave Eisenhower a 3-0 for the first win of the season, and the first ever league win. The Tigers also beat Valley Center in Week 6 before the districts.
Returning Starters: Offense 7, Defense 6
2014 District: at Arkansas City, at Liberal, Goddard
Eisenhower doesn’t have a ton of experience on the line of scrimmage. So the Tigers will be relying on returning senior left guard Mitch Raliegh for leadership. Junior Jakob Thomas gives Eisenhower a quality right guard. Raliegh and Thomas will be a good base for the Tigers on the offensive line, but will need some players to step up in order to keep the program moving forward.
Where Eisenhower has some questions on the offensive line, there is no doubt with its skill players. Senior fullback Josh Fatkin is a bruising, explosive presence in the option based Tiger offense. At receiver, the Tigers are stacked with returning talent. Senior Bailey Strunk returns after tallying 1,000 total yards last season. Junior Drake Damon returns to the slot after a solid sophomore season last year. Seniors Jake Jenkins and Ty Klein round out the four slot players who give the Tigers a ton of weapons. Sonny Brown is a junior who can make plays as a wide out as well.
Eisenhower will have a choice at quarterback with senior Blake Ramey and junior Dalton Dinkel.
The Tigers return senior kicker Blake Lynch who is a big weapon. Last season Lynch converted seven of eleven field goal attempts, including one 47-yard field goal.
Defensively, what junior safety Brett Huelsman lacks in age he makes up for with experience and raw talent. As a sophomore last season, Huelsman’s play on the field earned first-team all-league honors with 71 tackles and 3 interceptions. Joining Huelsman in a strong secondary, are corners Drake Damon and Michael Sooter.
Ty Klein returns at linebacker as well after recording 105 tackles, including 11 tackles for a loss, last season. Landon Jones is another returning linebacker who can make plays. Kody Hamlers and Trey Trudo will push each other competing over the third spot at linebacker.
On the line of scrimmage, junior defensive ends Jarin Hanika and Jake Daugherty provide a pair of playmakers for the next couple of years on the edge. Addison Logan is a sophomore, but will get a shot at nose tackle plugging up the middle. Colton Henning gives the Tigers a senior on the defensive line, with Adam Brown and Jack Scott looking to be factors as well.
Odds and Ends:
There is always going to be a learning curve when a new coach comes into a program. With Eisenhower last season, the curve was magnified with the team only in its second year of existence. This season, the Tigers are not interested in excuses. The time to start winning football games and become a threat in the AVCTL Div. II is now.
The team should all know exactly what is expected of them by the coaching staff. The time for learning how to practice is over, and the time to just put your head down and do it is here. With wins over Maize South and Valley Center last season, Marinelli believes he has seen the team’s capability. The Tigers were in a shootout with Liberal in the districts and came up just short in a 36-31 loss that would have put them one win away from the playoffs.
This season Eisenhower will push for that next step and at least a 10th game on the schedule.