Eugene, Ore. -- High school football season is officially back in Oregon as teams reported for their first practices of fall camp. Each day, KEZI 9 Sports will preview a different team from around the area and Monday begins with Marist High School, who is using last year's playoff exit against Crescent Valley as motivation for 2018.
"We started at the beginning of the summer and went to a camp and our goal through the whole winter last year right when the Crescent Valley game ended," recalls sophomore wide receiver Hagan Stephenson. "Our goal was to win state and that's our goal this year."
Call it motivation for the Marist Spartans, but don't expect any drastic changes in 2018.
"Staffs may never change but the clientele always does," says Marist head coach Frank Geske "It's liquid therefore your general philisophies stay the same but you definitely tweak it on what you have. We evaluate attitude, hustle, technique and scheme. When I broke with them earlier I told them, you're no good to anyone if you don't know your scheme."
Despite the graduation of star quarterback Reow Jackson, the Spartans return a bevy of talent, especially at the skill positions.
"Matthias Collins, we call him MoFi," Stephenson mentions as a player to watch. "Max Whittaker, they're both seniors. Just kind of everyone, if we can come together as a team we'll break out and have a great season."
Among the group is the sophomore Stephenson, now joining a rising group of promising players.
"He's our best guy," explains Geske. "There's other guys that should, Matthias Collins better be ready, Garrett Phelps better be ready, the big H-back Michael Lee he better be ready. But Hagan, Hagan is the real deal. He has no turn off switch."
With that Crescent Valley loss as bulletin board material, could Marist be poised for a run in 2018? Well, that's why we play the game.