Under Marsh, Central seeks turnaround with big, athletic linemen
Hope is lining up on both sides of the ball as Central High School looks to shovel dirt on last year’s winless season and move in a new direction under a new coach.
No stranger to coaching football in the Grand Valley, Shawn Marsh returns this year to his old stomping grounds to try to turn around a program for which he once played.
Marsh, who guided Grand Junction High School to a Class 4A state runner-up finish in 2005, sees size and athleticism on Central’s offensive and defensive lines. That’s a good start, but it’s not the start that matters to Marsh. Success in football is about finishing, he said, and how well he can get the Warriors to finish will determine their fate.
“We’re heading in the right direction,” Marsh said. “We want to play fast and physical, and we’re going to focus on ‘finish.’ Finish the play, finish the series, finish the quarter, finish the game.
“There’s a lot of ups and down in 48 minutes, the ebb and flow of the game. We’re going to finish.”
Marsh’s list of offensive linemen includes 6-foot-1, 220-pound center Mitchell McCune, guards Sean Lowrey (6-1, 220) and Soloman Jarman (6-1, 200) and tackles Ben Dalton (6-2, 250) and Parker Garner (6-5, 220). His defensive linemen include defensive ends Jacob Crosby (6-2, 230) and Skyler Hancock (6-3, 250) and nose guard Zach Ross (5-9, 250). Also factoring into both lines will be Rowdy Allen (6-0, 200) and Brandon Burton (6-0, 215).
These linemen provide hope.
“We have 13 guys that can play on the offensive and defensive line, and that’s a lot,” Marsh said. “We have some big, athletic kids. ... This group worked as hard in the weight room as any group I’ve had.”
That last comment means something because Marsh has coached football at all four District 51 high schools, be it as head coach or an assistant, in the past two decades.
“I have a bigger team than I’ve ever had,” Marsh said. “I’ve never had this many linemen who are athletic, physical kids. But can they finish?”
Marsh likes what he’s seeing behind the lines, too, especially on defense where Justice Morrow and Michael Estep are a pair of 220-pound inside linebackers. Of Morrow, Marsh said, “He’s one of the top tacklers in the state.”
On offense, Marsh needs to figure out who will be his quarterback, and he has three players in contention. Senior Jake Sebesta, a former soccer player, is big and strong at 6-1, 200 pounds. Juniors Wyatt McElwain and Brendan Bull are each about 5-10, 175 pounds. Their skills sets differ greatly.
“Jake can run people over and throw the ball,” Marsh said. “Wyatt is like a tailback. He is a very dangerous runner, one of the quickest guys on the team. Brendan is the best passer of the three. We’ll see which one is the greatest competitor.”
The two who don’t win the quarterback job will find spots elsewhere in the offense at running back or receiver in Marsh’s one-back, four-receiver offense. The starting running backs and wide receivers remain to be settled, but Marsh sees varying attributes from size to speed to athleticism and combinations of those traits.
“I really have a good group of kids,” Marsh said of the entire team. “I just don’t know how they’re going to compete. And based on the past, they haven’t competed.
“These kids haven’t won a lot of games. We’re talking about winning. We have to make that a focus, and we’re talking about it and the things we feel we have to change.”
That said, Marsh added he doesn’t care about the past. It’s a new day, and he is sure of this: “These kids, I know they’ll surprise some people.”
Where that will put the Warriors in the Class 4A/5A Southwestern Conference race, he doesn’t know, but he offers, “I can guarantee you we’ll improve. We’ll battle in the conference. I know that.”