Meadowdale still optimistic despite key losses | Football

Mavericks will have a new quarterback
By David Pan | Jun 29, 2017
Photo by: David Pan Meadowdale quarterback Nate Hebert works on his passing skills during a recent practice at Meadowdale High School.

Fresh off the school’s first-ever appearance in the state semifinals, the Meadowdale football team is looking to continue to move forward and take that next step.

But to do that the Mavericks will have to replace some of the best players. not just on the team but in the Wesco 3A South.

Six all-league players were among the Mavericks who graduated earlier this month. Those moving on include first-team quarterback Drew Tingstad, running back Kela Marshall, wide receiver/defensive back Haelin Roberts and tight end Zach Plummer. Tingstad, Marshall and Roberts are continuing their football careers in college.

“Everybody loses somebody. Our losses are tremendous,” Meadowdale coach Matt Leonard said. “We bring back a lot of kids who played a lot of football.”

Leonard, however, is facing a situation he’s never encountered in his coaching career – a full-blown competition at quarterback.

Tingstad, who is headed to Humboldt State University in California, started the last two seasons.

The three vying for the position are junior-to-be Nate Hebert and sophomores Hunter Moen and Cisco Pena. Hebert backed up Tingstad last season but didn’t see much action.

“Three kids, young kids are really going after it,” Leonard said. “There’s talent there.”

Leonard doesn’t have a timetable as to when he’ll name a starting quarterback.

“I’ve never been in this situation before,” he said. “I’m not going to rush that decision. When somebody separates themselves, that’s when I’ll make the decision. You hope someone separates themselves, so that the team, the kids, the coaches know who that kid is. All three kids are bright. It’s a good problem to have now.”

Whoever is tapped as the starter will have one of the more dynamic running backs in senior Jashon Butler, who earned first-team, all-league recognition as a defensive back.

Butler battled some injuries his junior year.

“From the time he got healthy, he was pretty electric,” Leonard said. “He gave us a spark.”

Marshall was such a strong running back that Leonard admits it was difficult to find enough carries for both him and Butler.

Butler has spent a lot of time in the weight room to add some weight to his 165-pound frame, Leonard added.

Meadowdale should be deep at the position, as Leonard said that there are four or five other candidates at running back.

Senior Will Schafer is another key returner on offense and defense. Schafer, who also is a standout on the basketball and baseball teams, earned first-team, all-league honors as a kicker and second-team recognition as a wide receiver and defensive back.

“He’s so consistent,” Leonard said. “He kind of does it all.”

Schafer’s versatility means that Leonard will be able plug him into the lineup wherever he’s needed.

“He’ll have a huge role whatever it is,” Leonard said.

Seniors Will Moloney and Jackson Foltz are expected to take over at tight end. Plummer finished as the school’s career receptions and touchdowns leader.

“That will be huge to replace,” Leonard said of Plummer. “He was such a great, consistent kid.”

An area where Meadowdale could see some improvement is the line. At times last season, Leonard said that the offensive line appeared overmatched. He doesn’t expect that to happen this year.

“We’ll be solid there. We have the opportunity to be even better,” Leonard said.

First-team, all-league linemen Alex Maxwell, a junior, will be joined by Eric Lee and Hunter Cliff.

The returning players saw what it took to make the state playoff run.

“They’re hungry to keep raising that bar, inching that bar up,” Leonard said. “They’re definitely looking to take that next step.”

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