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Panthers look to build on last year's lessons

Posted: Friday, August 16, 2002

A visit to the office of coach Wade Marcuson during the first week of practice revealed boxes of hats with the Superman logo on the front colored in Skyview's signature purple, white and black.

"I hope these aren't too cocky," Marcuson said of the lids.

He wasn't being sarcastic.

After last year, when the Panthers were the trendy pick to take the Northern Lights Conference yet ended up 4-4 overall and 2-2 in conference, Marcuson is doing everything he can to keep his squad focused on the here and now and not on goals far down the road.

"Last year the preview sold us as the team to beat, and by no means is that something I want said this year," Marcuson said. "I felt like we had an OK season last year, but we had a lot of disappointments throughout.

SKYVIEW

PANTHERS

COLORS: Purple, white and black

2001 RECORD: 4-4 (2-2 in the NLC)

HEAD COACH: Wade Marcuson (fifth year)

ASSISTANTS: Rob Sparks, Phil Sheridan, Scott Stubbert, Rob Couture, Dave Cleveland.

2002 VARSITY SCHEDULE

Aug. 10 at Eielson TBA

Aug. 17 at Nikiski 2 p.m.

Aug. 23 ACS 7 p.m.

Aug. 30 KODIAK 7 p.m.

Sept. 6 SOLDOTNA 6 p.m.

Sept. 14 at Kenai 2 p.m.

Sept. 28 HOMER 2 p.m.

Home games in CAPS

"That's not to say last season was a lost season. We did finish .500. We just had a hard time with the expectations. We were looking past what we should have done, and that's play every day in order to get better."

That's not the only lesson that Marcuson and his team learned last year. Part of the expectations came from last year's juniors, who had put together a dominating season the year before at the junior varsity level.

"Last year was definitely a learning experience for some of the juniors," Marcuson said of the players who are seniors this year.

Marcuson also learned that when it comes to numbers, he'd rather error on the side of quality than quantity.

Since he took over the program five years ago, one of Marcuson's focuses had been getting the numbers up. This year he didn't focus on large numbers as much as he concentrated on getting quality kids out.

 

Skyview Junior Varsity

Freshmen: Michael Burlisen, Josh Carlon, Nick Hann, Chris Heitstuman, Eric Kirby, Micah Kuhl, John Martinusen, Aleks Pfaffe, Eric Rodgers, Jacob York, Tyler Lewis. Sophomores: Steve Buben, Justin Dahlen, Kenny Dean, Richard Derkevorkian, Jake Eveland, Gabe Fellman, Cory Fowler, Corey Hatten, Liloa Lavea, Linson Lavea, Anthony Quelland, Jim Reed, Zack Rowell, Aaron Singleton, Jason Smith, Matthew Smith, Nathan Smith, Forrest West, Duke McGarvey.

He ended up with 56 players in his program.

"I could have gotten 60 kids out, and I've had 80 in the past," Marcuson said. "The more I started looking at it, the more I saw that some kids were just causing problems.

"This year, I wanted kids who wanted to be here. I've got 56 kids that want to be here, and I think I'm going to be a lot happier."

Among that group of 56 is a tight group of 12 seniors. Two years ago, when this year's senior class put together the solid junior varsity season, there were 30 sophomores playing football.

That number has now been pared down to 12, many of whom were dedicated and talented enough to win the Kenai Peninsula Borough track crown last year.

"The seniors are going to take us as far as we go," Marcuson said. "They're a pretty tight group. They enjoy being together on the field and off the field."

Marcuson said he also learned last year not to force feed his team the offense. After the first week of practice this year, he had four or five plays in. Last year at the same time, he had 20.

The key for this year's team, according to Marcuson, will be the group of senior linemen.

"On both the offense and defense, we're hoping to ride the backs of our returning linemen," Marcuson said. "We don't have a lot of experience in the backfield.

"Most of our experience is coming on the line."

Those returners key to the line will be seniors Ryan Staab, Trevor Tompkins, Jacob Oliver, Mike Barnes and Christian Rice. Marcuson also thinks senior Adam Kosydar may play tight end this year, so that could give the line even more of a push.

Marcuson will go with senior Justin Rainwater at quarterback. Rainwater has been playing the position in the program for four years.

In the backfield, Marcuson is experimenting with a lot of different combinations. Some of the players looking for time in the backfield are seniors Jason Nelson, Lukas Fellman and Mike Waer and junior Cody Williams.

The offense also will have senior wide receiver Kevin McGrady and senior kicker Jamie Beever.

On defense, Marcuson and defensive coordinator Rob Sparks will count on senior leadership to keep the unit together.

Seniors Tompkins and Nelson will play linebacker, Kosydar will play defensive end and Waer, McGrady and Fellman will be defensive backs. Also important on defense will be that corps of returning senior linemen.

"We don't have returning seniors in every position on defense," Marcuson said. "Hopefully, the ones we have will get the others rolling."

And that can only happen one step at a time.

"We know what we need to do to get better, and that's get better day by day," Marcuson said. "We have a chance to be a good team by the end of the season, but we can only do that day by day."

BYLINE1:By JEFF HELMINIAK

BYLINE2:Peninsula Clarion

A visit to the office of coach Wade Marcuson during the first week of practice revealed boxes of hats with the Superman logo on the front colored in Skyview's signature purple, white and black.

"I hope these aren't too cocky," Marcuson said of the lids.

He wasn't being sarcastic.

After last year, when the Panthers were the trendy pick to take the Northern Lights Conference yet ended up 4-4 overall and 2-2 in conference, Marcuson is doing everything he can to keep his squad focused on the here and now and not on goals far down the road.

"Last year the preview sold us as the team to beat, and by no means is that something I want said this year," Marcuson said. "I felt like we had an OK season last year, but we had a lot of disappointments throughout.

"That's not to say last season was a lost season. We did finish .500. We just had a hard time with the expectations. We were looking past what we should have done, and that's play every day in order to get better."

That's not the only lesson that Marcuson and his team learned last year. Part of the expectations came from last year's juniors, who had put together a dominating season the year before at the junior varsity level.

"Last year was definitely a learning experience for some of the juniors," Marcuson said of the players who are seniors this year.

Marcuson also learned that when it comes to numbers, he'd rather error on the side of quality than quantity.

Since he took over the program five years ago, one of Marcuson's focuses had been getting the numbers up. This year he didn't focus on large numbers as much as he concentrated on getting quality kids out.

He ended up with 56 players in his program.

"I could have gotten 60 kids out, and I've had 80 in the past," Marcuson said. "The more I started looking at it, the more I saw that some kids were just causing problems.

"This year, I wanted kids who wanted to be here. I've got 56 kids that want to be here, and I think I'm going to be a lot happier."

Among that group of 56 is a tight group of 12 seniors. Two years ago, when this year's senior class put together the solid junior varsity season, there were 30 sophomores playing football.

That number has now been pared down to 12, many of whom were dedicated and talented enough to win the Kenai Peninsula Borough track crown last year.

"The seniors are going to take us as far as we go," Marcuson said. "They're a pretty tight group. They enjoy being together on the field and off the field."

Marcuson said he also learned last year not to force feed his team the offense. After the first week of practice this year, he had four or five plays in. Last year at the same time, he had 20.

The key for this year's team, according to Marcuson, will be the group of senior linemen.

"On both the offense and defense, we're hoping to ride the backs of our returning linemen," Marcuson said. "We don't have a lot of experience in the backfield.

"Most of our experience is coming on the line."

Those returners key to the line will be seniors Ryan Staab, Trevor Tompkins, Jacob Oliver, Mike Barnes and Christian Rice. Marcuson also thinks senior Adam Kosydar may play tight end this year, so that could give the line even more of a push.

Marcuson will go with senior Justin Rainwater at quarterback. Rainwater has been playing the position in the program for four years.

In the backfield, Marcuson is experimenting with a lot of different combinations. Some of the players looking for time in the backfield are seniors Jason Nelson, Lukas Fellman and Mike Waer and junior Cody Williams.

The offense also will have senior wide receiver Kevin McGrady and senior kicker Jamie Beever.

On defense, Marcuson and defensive coordinator Rob Sparks will count on senior leadership to keep the unit together.

Seniors Tompkins and Nelson will play linebacker, Kosydar will play defensive end and Waer, McGrady and Fellman will be defensive backs. Also important on defense will be that corps of returning senior linemen.

"We don't have returning seniors in every position on defense," Marcuson said. "Hopefully, the ones we have will get the others rolling."

And that can only happen one step at a time.

"We know what we need to do to get better, and that's get better day by day," Marcuson said. "We have a chance to be a good team by the end of the season, but we can only do that day by day."



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