Pioneers hope for continued progress

MARIETTA – After putting up a goose egg in the win column two years ago, the Marietta College football team was able to improve on that mark last year… by one.

It may not seem like a lot, but for a program that has struggled in recent years, any type progress and improvement is a good thing.

That’s what MC head coach Andy Waddle is looking for again this season, but hopefully to a greater extent.

Waddle, entering his second year as the Pioneers’ head man, said that the team is on a conditioning schedule at this point in the summer and his hoping his players are in great shape going into the preseason in mid-August.

“We want to see the culture change,” Waddle said, pointing out that Marietta’s junior varsity squad had a winning record last season. “We want to continue to build on that progress.”

Marietta will have some experienced players expected back, including senior captain Josh Llaneza, a wide receiver, junior defensive lineman Joe Ortega and senior linebacker Cody Rice. Also back will be receiver Tannon Roberts, who enters his fifth year with the program. Listed on the preseason roster as well is senior running back Tim Conner, who rushed for 913 yards in 10 starts last year.

That figures to be Marietta’s main core going into the 2014 campaign, but Waddle noted the Pios will need contributions from players of all ages in order to be successful.

“We’re going to rely on guys from all four of our classes,” Waddle said. “Our seniors are going to need to provide great leadership on the field, and the same goes for the juniors and sophomores. We’re going to need contributions from our freshmen as well.”

Speaking of freshmen, the Pioneers’ roster lists approximately 60 of them currently. That number could possibly thin out by the time the season rolls around Sept. 6 when Marietta plays Kenyon College on the road.

Waddle said Kenyon will present a tough challenge, but believes his team is headed in the right direction.

“If we continue to do things the way they’re meant to be done in a consistent manner as coaches and as players, eventually we’re going to find a tremendous amount of success.”