The 2022 season looks to be a challenging one for Marist, as it enters the new campaign with a more inexperienced lineup in a higher classification.
The War Eagles return only three starters on offense and four on defense from a team that went 10-2 and advanced to the Class AAAA quarterfinals after going undefeated and winning the state title in 2020.
“The biggest concern is those kids who are filling those holes, some of them didn’t get as much experience and playing time as we would have liked,” Marist coach Alan Chadwick said. “But they’ve made good progress physically, they’ve worked hard — which is the thing I like best about this team is that they’ve worked hard to put themselves in a better position to compete for positions. We expect to be competitive in every ballgame.”
The young Marist squad will certainly have their hands full as they move up two classifications from AAAA to AAAAAA — the highest classification the War Eagles have ever played in — and embark of a tough schedule that includes state powerhouses Gainesville, Woodward Academy and Blessed Trinity as well as Florida state power Norland of Miami.
“It’s a huge jump for us and it’s a very big challenge,” Chadwick said. “We’re just going to have to roll it out there and see what happens. You add the fact that we’re in 6A and some of the other quality teams that we’ve picked up to play — Gainesville, which is out of our region, Blessed Trinity, Woodward (Academy), who are traditional rivals that we do play. We’re playing a team out of Miami (Fla.) called Norland. So we have a really, really tough schedule top to bottom. It’s going to be very difficult for us to navigate there.”
Senior Ripp Perez, an All-State selection last year, will play a key role at both punter and tight end, while junior quarterback D.J. Mazzone and junior fullback Jackson Hughes are also expected to be crucial performers on offense.
Seniors Eli Clarkson and Michael Schoenberg as well as juniors Walker Richens and Joseph Pizzo will share time at running back and junior tight end Luke Harpring and senior wide receiver Bryant Lisenby are the primary receivers,
“I would say our strength is our quickness, versatility of our backs and even some of our skill position players, our receivers,” Chadwick said. “They have good hands, they catch the ball well, they move well in space, that type of thing.”
The Marist offensive line will be anchored by three seniors — guard O’Keefe McKinney, center Drew Prieto and tackle Kevin McDonald.
“We’ve got three coming in there who have good experience and we’ve got four or five other bodies that we’re trying to fill those other positions there,” Chadwick said.
Senior cornerbacks Andrew Buschmann and Joe Tapp, junior cornerback Daniel Hollingsworth and sophomore safeties William Pruitt and Jack Euart are the key players on defense for the War Eagles.