In the first year of play for the newly formed Southwest Conference, the Marionville Comets finished in a disappointing fifth place. Under head coach Paden Grubbs, the Comets finished the season 3-4 in conference play and 4-6 overall. Marionville battled injuries all season, and despite a good talent pool, fell to Miller in the first round of district play.

This season, Grubbs’s team will feature 16 returning lettermen, all of whom will bring a familiarity to the offensive side of the ball.

“We have guys who have been in our system for four years now,” said the coach. “They know the verbal calls and what they are supposed to do off of that.

“We won’t be the biggest or fastest team on the field every night, but our guys will know what to do and execute,” Grubbs added.

The coach says to expect a spread offense this season from the Comets, who last year averaged 19.5 points per game.

On the defensive side, Grubbs admits his team “will be young in a lot of spots,” but says he expects the group to be eager to get after the ball.

Marionville will have five seniors returning to the field this year, led by Zach Newberry, Ty Bick and Jeremy Vickers, all of whom earned All-Conference recognition last season. Wyatt Kuhs will also be returning to the quarterback position after starting six games last year, and Sam Huff will be back for more action on the offensive and defensive lines.

Of Newberry and Bick, Coach Grubbs stated: “We will look to these two to lead the offensive and defensive lines,” adding, “It is crucial that they have a big year for us. It is time for them to lead.”

“We’re very excited for the upcoming season,” said Newberry. “We need to continue to work hard, focus on the little things, and do our job to the best of our ability.”

Also expected to step up his senior year is Vickers, who was a first team All-District selection as a DB.

“Jeremy finished with almost 900 yards rushing last season,” said the coach. “[He is a] good athlete who we need to continue to get the ball to.”

Kuhs also put up big numbers last year, throwing for nearly 800 yards after taking over the starting quarterback role.

“We need him to be a more aggressive runner this season,” said Grubbs. “We expect good things out of him this year.”

Also rejoining the team as juniors this season are Kyle Brattin, Adam Phillips, Austin White, Kelbey Parker and Justin Carr. Sophomores listed as returners include Koy Dittmar, Jacksen Smith, Wyley Brown, Eric Gracia, Dakota Wilson and Kaden Klineline.

Among the newcomers Grubbs expects to have an impact this year is senior Matthew Goodman, who will suit up at wide receiver and defensive back.

“Matthew will give us a good athlete at our ‘X’ receiver. He has done a great job in the weight room and summer conditioning,” said the coach. “We look for him to start on both sides of the ball.”

Grubbs also expects incoming freshmen Wil Carlton and Blane Young to compete for starting roles at the same positions as Goodman.

Grubbs says his philosophy for the season is to get better every day. With that and some better luck in avoiding injuries, he expects the team to have a good season.

“Our numbers will be down and we will be extremely young across the board,” he said. “However, this group of young men [is] willing to work and compete. They have worked hard in the weight room and camps to be the best they can be.

“I expect us to go out and compete every day on the practice field and on Friday/Monday nights,” he added. “This is going to be a fun group to coach.

Marionville will begin its season with a jamboree at Greenfield on August 23, along with Miller and Pleasant Hope. The first regular season game will be at home against Pleasant Hope the following Friday.