HUDSON — Many questions arose when Fivay lost its spring game 43-0 to River Ridge.
The Falcons lost quarterback Eric Vitale and veteran running backs, but many believe the spring game loss was a learning experience, one the returning offensive linemen took seriously.
The 6-foot-4, 280-pound senior returns as Fivay’s top offensive and defensive player, even though he had just 12 tackles a season ago. That number should balloon when he sees more playing time in the trenches, where he works hard to allow skill players Trenton Soto and Christian Coleman to make plays.
“Mark (Maynes) is a product of his hard work,” coach Chris Taylor said. “He’s always in the weight room and works really hard on his conditioning. He’s been to a lot of camps this summer for his skills and his ability to work hard has really made the other kids step up. The offensive line is a senior-laden group and they’re really starting to take it upon themselves to step it up.”
Taylor knows that Maynes is one of the primary parts that will power the offense. Fivay generated more than 3,000 yards in 2013. It will take more blocking up front to mimic that success.
Maynes and company paved the way for 1,560 rushing yards and pass protected for 1,416 yards and 15 touchdowns.
The offensive line, which also includes Cody Reeves, Cole Weinhauer, Josh Root and Austin Bennet, will protect sophomore quarterback Cyler Doran, who makes his first varsity starts. If the line provides the young QB time, the Falcons’ weapons — Soto and Coleman — could combine to duplicate their more than 1,000 yards receiving and 13 touchdowns from 2013.
“The offensive line two years ago was all seniors,” Maynes said. “When we were sophomores, we all played together as one group and we’ve grown up around each other. We’re a good group of kids and we’re familiar with what we do. Our junior year, we were put to the test and some of the games we answered the bell and some we didn’t. This time, it’s our last year and we have to put it all on the line. Our main goal is to execute on every play.”
The Falcons will improvise offensively, as Fivay struggled to find consistency in its 43-0 spring game loss to River Ridge. Losing quarterback Eric Vitale and tailbacks Vik Taylor and Davion Sutton hurt, but the return of the entire offensive line eases that pain. Sophomore Cyler Doran takes over at quarterback and will need to limit his mistakes in his first season.
Fivay lost several starters but junior linebacker Nick Manglaris (71 tackles) returns. The Falcons will rely on their offensive starters to switch over to defense and contribute immensely. Expect Trenton Soto and Christian Coleman to roam the secondary and Mark Maynes to anchor the defensive line.
Fivay might still find itself in rebuilding mode as it competes in always-tough Class 6A-District 6, which features Mitchell, Land O’ Lakes, Spring Hill Springstead and Sunlake. With the loss of many veteran starters and many new players having to play both ways, the Falcons will try to be competitive, but the postseason could be out of reach for the young squad that has just 30 varsity players and is breaking in a sophomore quarterback.