Veteran running crew returns to lead M-P

MARYSVILLE — Morale is high on the Tomahawk practice fields.

MARYSVILLE — Morale is high on the Tomahawk practice fields.

After what should have been a rebuilding season in 2007, the M-P football team defied expectations, arguably falling one point short of a chance at a playoff berth and ended up assembling a 5-5 record (4-4 in conference). With relatively small losses to graduation, the outlook is good for Marysville this season.

Despite the key losses of a couple of all-league linemen and their starting quarterback, M-P is essentially a running team and returns a tandem of four senior backs who saw significant play time as juniors. Captains Mike Stone and Ryan Sterley return from all-league seasons while Caleb Posey might be remembered for his breakaway runs last season, notably in the homecoming victory over Lake Stevens. The fourth, Travis Sanderson, first made an impact as a return man on special teams, but started seeing more time on offense later in the season.

While there’s a three-man contest for the quarterback job, senior co-captain Devin Peterson would appear to have the inside track. Peterson, who is competing with Nick Forsythe and Zack Hanson for the job, backed up Denay Stell last year as a junior and took snaps during the summer scrimmage at Western Washington University. When M-P goes to the air, whoever gets the nod will have at least two experienced receivers in seniors Levi Cartas and Andy Abadam.

Head coach Brandon Carson said he’ll hand the offense over to whoever runs the system best.

“I envision us as being similar to what we were last year,” he added.

While the defensive line has lost all-league tackle Jamie Cruz, Carson identifies his linebackers and back field as defensive strengths. At inside linebacker, Sterley and Stone should provide some leadership on the defensive side of the ball as well, while Abadam will be a third-year starter at defensive back.

Marysville opens the season with back-to-back home games against non-conference challenger Shorecrest Sept. 5 and a wounded league rival Snohomish — whose underclassmen ranks have been divided by the opening of the new Glacier Peak High School — Sept. 12. They’ll follow it with only two more home games in the rest of their nine-game season, hosting Arlington for Octoberfest on Oct. 3 and homecoming against Monroe Oct. 24.

Arguably, M-P’s toughest streak might begin with Arlington, who topped the Tommies 21-20 last year in their conference closer. They’ll follow that with road games against Lake Stevens and Wesco South district qualifier Kamiak, Oct. 10 and Oct. 17.