The good news is the Homer football team returns three quarterbacks this year with varsity experience.
The bad news is the Mariners had to suffer through last year, when the injury bug swarmed the team and forced it to use four different quarterbacks.
"It's hard to run the offense when things are going like that," said Homer coach Todd Phillips, whose team finished 2-4 overall and out of the playoffs. "There's no consistency."
As Phillips enters his sixth season at the helm of the Mariners, he's hoping to have a little better luck with injuries this season. He starts the year with 54 kids in his program and 14 seniors on his varsity.
Last year, the Mariners were small and fast. They attempted to take advantage of their quickness by ditching the I-formation running game normally favored by Phillips for a spread formation.
However, with the injuries the spread offense got spread a little thin and never paid the desired dividends. In the five games for which the Peninsula Clarion received stats from Homer, the Mariners scored just 46 points and rolled up 670 yards of offense.
"We're going back to our normal offense this year," Phillips said. "Last year we had speed and we were small, but this year we're bigger size-wise. We're also not as fast. That'll work better for our traditional offense."
With 14 seniors on the squad, Phillips also said the Mariners will not be a rudderless ship.
"We've got great leaders," Phillips said. "We don't have a lot of depth, but our first line is fairly good."
One of those leaders is Aaron Smith, a senior quarterback. Smith played wide receiver last year before moving under center when the injuries started to decimate Homer's signal callers.
Senior Tom Crandall will play cornerback and split end for the Mariners, while senior Sam Ingraim will play fullback and defensive tackle, and senior Luke Roberts will play tailback and cornerback.
Phillips will mix some promising youth with experience. His junior varsity team was only beaten by Skyview last year, and six sophomores started for Homer's varsity last season.
"They all have been in the weight room," Phillips said of the six returning junior starters. "We're hoping it will pay off."
That group is led by juniors Adam Crum and Josh Fraley, who will both play guard on offense.
Phillips also is hoping for improvement on defense.
"We return both of our middle linebackers. They both started as sophomores," Phillips said. "We've also got a good nucleus on the defensive line. We return three starters."
In the five games for which the Clarion received stats last year, Homer's defense yielded 1,044 yards, with 633 coming on the ground and 411 coming thr-ough the air.
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