Marist will face a unique challenge when it hosts Class AAAAAAA team Harrison in a non-region game at Hughes-Spalding Stadium Sept. 24.

It will be the first time that the defending AAAA state champions will face a AAAAAAA squad – a task that Marist coach Alan Chadwick is looking forward to.

“We feel like it helps us get ready for the region games coming up in a few weeks,” Chadwick said. “It is what it is, we’ll see what we got. We play them at home and we play really well at home, so we’ll see what happens.”

Marist, which will play the game after a bye week, appears to be in good shape with a 2-1 start to the 2021 season.

The War Eagles opened the season with a 28-13 victory over AAAAA powerhouse Blessed Trinity Aug. 27, then lost to another AAAAA contender in Woodward Academy 14-9 Sept. 3 before entering their bye week with a convincing 37-0 win over Hampton in their most recent game Sept. 10.

“I think we’re making progress,” Chadwick said. “We’re getting better. We still have a lot of little things to work on. We have to be more consistent, that’s kind of our biggest problem at this point. At times, we look really good, then we fall apart. But I think we are making progress. We’ve cleaned up some things, we’ve limited penalties in our last two ballgames.”

“We’re not starting out as fast as I would like us to in ballgames, particularly offensively,” Chadwick said. “We’ve got to get out of the gate a little bit better than what we’re doing. We’re kind of stalling out, missing passes – we’re missing open receivers and that’s an area we need to be more productive with. We have people open, we just need to get the ball to them.”

Senior outside linebacker Billy Roche leads a formidable defense that also includes senior defensive end Ryan Phelan, senior outside linebacker Joe Patin and senior free safety Chandler Heath.

Senior fullback Andrew Mannelly, senior halfback Will Gerrick and senior quarterback Champ Davis lead the way on offense, while senior offensive lineman/defensive lineman Steven Nahmias – a Duke commitment – is a key player on both the offensive and defensive lines.

The War Eagles face a stiff challenge from a Harrison team that won the AAAAAA state championship in 2019 before moving up to AAAAAAA last year.

Marist will be the second defending state champion in a row that the Hoyas (2-1) will face, having played last year’s AAAAAAA title-holder Grayson on Sept. 17 (the result of the game was not available at press time).

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