Overall, it was a solid showing, especially for an offense which had to be revamped after scoring a mere 60 points a year ago. The Owls' first team -- which was on the field for the first half in each of the three 12-play unit sessions -- recorded three touchdowns in 18 snaps, while the defense yielded only one.
"They were excited to play," said first-year MHS head coach Jon Stockman. "We needed to get our here and see how we would compete against some good football teams."
The Owls started off against Warrensburg, which ended their winless campaign last year with a 52-8 whipping, and gave up only six yards. When Marshall's offense took the field, it rolled through the Tigers.
Junior Tyler Cott ran for 10 yards and a first down on two carries, senior Brandon Johnson gained six yards and senior Marc Plummer moved past the chains with an eight-yard haul. Plummer broke through on the next play for a 16-yard TD run and on the next snap senior Alex Maupin connected with Johnson on a fade route for a 40-yard score.
It wasn't that easy all night. The Owls fumbled on the opening play against Higginsville and the defense missed a tackle which allowed senior quarterback Adam Reid to rumble 40 yards for a touchdown on the Huskers' first snap.
After the early miscue, Marshall got the running game cranking during the second segment. Plummer picked up 15 yards and Johnson broke around left end for a 21-yard touchdown.
"I thought we looked pretty good," Stockman assessed. "Except a couple of times against Higginsville, when they got loose on us, the defense played great."
Oak Grove opened the final set with a 28-yard run by sophomore Aaron Graham, moving to the Owls' 6-yard line on the next play. However, the defense stiffened as Plummer got in on three tackles to stop the Panthers short of the end zone.
After another fumble, Marshall picked up first downs on a pair of nine-yard runs by Plummer and an eight-yard Johnson burst. The subs got their only score when senior Darion Lawrence blasted in from eight yards out.
"We had the ball on the ground way too many times," Stockman said about adjusting to the veer-option offense. "Other than that, I think they're picking it up."
Even more encouraging than the highlights on the field was the sight of some 70 players dressed in black and red uniforms. That's nearly twice as many as typically were available to the Owls in 2011.
That reflected an attitude among the team, a week ahead of Friday's season opener at Chillicothe, which was significantly different from this time last year.
"That's how football is supposed to feel!" senior Zach Bishop shouted to his teammates midway through the scrimmage. "It feels like we have a family out here."