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Numbers game isn't a concern for Spartans.

Byline: Steve Mims The Register-Guard

The numbers are down at Marist, but Frank Geske has found the positive in having fewer players at practice.

"I keep reminding our coaches that we are probably one of the fewest in kids practicing around the state, but the reps they are getting has us further into the playbook than I have ever been at this point," Geske said.

Marist has a total of about 50 players in the entire program.

"We are down in numbers, but we are long on some good ones," Geske said. "As far as the 11 that are on the field and some quality backups, I think we are as good as we have had. I have got a smile on my face each night other than learning how to practice with 45 or 50 players."

Geske said it's been a challenge to coach with fewer players since arriving at the school nine years ago after winning a state title in the state's highest classification for Tigard in 2003.

"It is something I really had to adjust when I came to Marist and now I need to refine it more," Geske said.

The Spartans return quarterback Reow Jackson, who took over the starting spot in the middle of last season.

"Last year he was an athlete developing into a quarterback," Geske said. "Now he is a quarterback who happens to be an athlete."

Nathanael Koester and Cameron Gray return on the line, and kicker Jace Krier will play a bigger role at wide receiver. Marcus Lydon and Drew Lara give Jackson a couple of seniors at running back.

"With Marcus, we can run zone thinking he can get it done making decisions with jump cuts and accelerating back," Geske said. "Lara was the leading rusher in his class on freshman and junior varsity."

The Spartans have their most depth on the defensive line. Austin Robbins anchors the defense at linebacker along with Sam Landry, Riley Betts and Tucker Karo.

Newcomers Pierece LaCoste and Chase Cutsworth will play wide receiver and be in the secondary with Cayden Spencer.

Marist at a glance

Coach: Frank Geske

Key players: Reow Jackson (QB/DB), Marcus Lydon (RB/DB), Drew Lara (RB), Jace Krier (WR/K), Chase Cutsworth (WR/DB), Pierce LaCoste (WR/DB), Nathanael Koester (OL/DL), Cameron Gray (OL/DL), Austin Robbins (OL/LB), Sam Landry (LB), Riley Betts (LB), Tucker Karo (LB).

Outlook: Last year was uncharacteristic for the Spartans, who went 1-4 in the Midwestern League and missed the playoffs after finishing 3-6 overall. Marist should be back among the title contenders in the league this year. The Spartans need to avoid serious injuries with a lack of numbers but have the talent to compete near the top of a wide-open league.

Deep line: Geske said he has often used three linemen and then filled in some holes with a couple of other players, but this year has as many as 20 linemen in the program. On offense, Austin Robbins has moved from tight end to the line while Jack Courtemanche transferred from Sheldon. Ian Schwartz started at times on offense last year but will likely see most of his time on defense this year.

Schedule: Sept. 2, at Crescent Valley; Sept. 9, Lebanon; Sept. 16, Crater; Sept. 23, at Ashland; Sept. 30, at North Eugene; Oct. 7, Churchill; Oct. 14, Thurston; Oct. 21, at Springfield; Oct. 28, Eagle Point.'

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Title Annotation:Prep Football; Geske says he would like more players but those playing get plenty of reps
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Aug 31, 2016
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