Head Coach: Doug Armstrong
Years as Head Coach: 3rd Season
Previous Experience: 6 Seasons as Assistant at Marsh Valley
6 Years as Youth Coach
Record Last Year: 3-5
State Titles: 2004
Parker Armstrong, TE/LB, 12
Aaron Marchall, WR/DB, 12
Zayne Damron, RB/LB, 12
Riley Lloyd, QB/SS, 12
Payton Campbell, RB/LB, 12
Jacob McNabb, OL/DL, 12
Tanner Branson OL/DL, 12
Conn O’Doherty, OL/DL, 12
David Belnap, OL/LB, 12
Damon Kelly, QB, 11
Tate Barker, RB/LB, 11
Brock Bennett, WR/DB, 11
Marshall Gunnell, OL, 12
Returning Players with Honors:
Tanner Branson 1st Team All-Conference OL
Conn O’Doherty, 1st Team All-Conference OL
Damon Kelly, 2nd Team All-Conference QB
Payton Campbell, 2nd Team All-Conference RB
Aaron Marshall, 2nd Team All-Conference WR
Parker Armstrong, 2nd Team All-Conference TE
Marshall Gunnell, 2nd Team All-Conference OL
Key Players lost from last year:
"We lost Caden May, our FB and MLB who was voted as the conference player of the year. Caden was big, strong and physical. We lost Cody Goodworth a 1st Team WR who was our go to utility player. He ran the ball, caught the ball, and even took snaps at QB. We also lost 3 linemen in Justin Ketner, Dylan Silcock, and Lance Marshall who will be hard positions to replace. Isaac Bowman was a 1st Team All-Conference outside linebacker who was a very physical defender who set and contained the edge on his side of the field." Coach Armstrong.
Photo By: Kyle Riley - #34 Payton Campbell
Written By: Matt Harris
Two years ago when Doug Armstrong took the reigns of the Marsh Valley Eagles football program, he instituted a saying that he hoped would permeate the program: “Every fall, we rise”.
“We want the team to know that no matter the challenge or setback, that we can rise up to and not only face the challenge, but overcome the challenger if we work together,” said Armstrong, now in his third season as head coach.
Last season, the fruits of that motto began to show. Marsh Valley clinched a playoff berth and also posted their best record since 2011. And the Eagles want more.
Despite losing three linemen in Justin Ketner, Dylan Silcock, and Lance Marshall, along with fullback/linebacker Caden May, linebacker Isaac Bowman, and utility man Cody Goodworth, the Eagles believe they have the pieces in place to not only make a run at the playoffs, but to take home the conference crown.
Marsh Valley has been known as a smashmouth team for many years now and Armstrong says to expect more of the same in 2018.
“Once again, our offensive line is the strength of our team and our season will rise or fall based upon their ability to win the battle in the trenches,” he said. “There is nothing fancy about what we do. We are a blue collar, hardworking, football team and our goal is to be more physical than the teams we play. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, and we hope to run over people.”
Jacob McNabb, Tanner Brandon, Conn O’Doherty, Marshall Gunnell, and David Belnap will be leaned upon for leadership on the offensive line. Running backs Zayne Damron and Tate Barker will shoulder the majority of the rushing attack behind the line.
“Our running attack will be faster with a lot of depth to help us sustain the injuries that we will encounter,” said Armstrong.
Armstrong acknowledged, however, that they are going to seek more balance within their offense as they have worked to develop their quarterbacks in order to open up different options.
“Last year we struggled in our passing game, but we have had a very good offseason with several quarterbacks who have worked hard and who are competing for the starting job,” he said. “We are more balanced this year in the personnel that we have offensively which will open up the passing game.”
Those quarterbacks include Riley Lloyd and junior Damon Kelly, who should help provide stability in the passing game. Receivers Brock Bennett and Aaron Marshall will look to use their talents to help balance the offense. Parker Armstrong could see some targets from the tight end position.
Many of those same faces will have a major impact on the defensive side of the ball as well, according to Armstrong.
McNabb, Branson, and O’Doherty will anchor the defensive front, with Damron, Campbell, Belnap, Barker, and Parker Armstrong manning the linebacker core. Marshall, Lloyd, and Bennett will lead the experienced secondary.
“We play a 3-5 defense and this will be a major focus for us as we haeve a large group of returning players who were recognized for their defensive play,” he said. “The boys are fast and they flow well to the ball. We were much more effective at limiting teams last year and, if not for a few mistakes late in games last season, our record would have been much different.”
The coach added that he wants his team to continue to work on limiting yards after contact and that 11 players need to be flowing to the ball on every play.
Armstrong then added that the younger generation entering the varsity ranks will be well prepared for the style of football that is expected of them.
“We have high hopes for some of our incoming players to step up and fill the voids that have been created,” he said. “Our JV squad was very successful last year and if the boys will step in and fulfull their roles then we should be okay. We are looking forward to the competition that the open spots will create as we expect our boys to come out and compete to earn their positions.”
Most years it comes down to roster turnover and how quickly new players can become acclimated to the varsity game when it comes to finding success. However, that success this year may be depend on how quickly the coaching staff comes together.
“I have only two returning assistant coaches, so we will have some learning curves as the new assistant coaches try to learn the system that the boys are already familiar with,” Armstrong said. “When we get everyone operating together, we should be a quality team.”
Marsh Valley will play an 8-game schedule in 2018 and kick things off Week 1 on the road against their I-15 rivals, the Malad Dragons. They will then open their home schedule on Aug. 31 against Filer from District 4 before hitting the road again the first week of September to face perennial 2A power West Side in Dayton. Another road trip awaits the team on Sept. 14 when they travel to face Sugar-Salem.
The Eagles will then play three of their final four games at home, starting on Sept. 21 when they face Bear Lake, followed by a date with South Fremont on Sept. 28 in Arimo. The ever-important conference play then begins on Oct. 5 as Marsh Valley travel to Moreland to take on six-time defending conference champion Snake River. Following a bye week, the Eagles will host American Falls on Oct. 19 to finish the regular season.
“Snake River will always be tough. They are the district champions and, until they are knocked off, we will continue to work towards playing at their level,” Armstrong said. “This year, we have to go to Moreland which is a tough place to play. American Falls will also be an improved tea with Coach [Cory] Hollingsworth now at the helm. He is an intelligent and well-versed coach who always has his teams ready to play.”
Armstrong said that his boys are ready to get going with the 2018 season and that all are ready to show their improved strengths. If things come together early on for Marsh Valley, watch for them to contend for the conference crown.