PHILADELPHIA One thing you can always count on with Indian River football is plenty of speed in the backfield, a strong offensive and defensive front, and strong defensive pursuit from sideline-to-sideline.
That trend should continue this season, but with some new names toting the ball and a veteran defense looking to pick up the offense until it hits mid-season form.
Coach Cory Marsell lost nearly 2,200 rushing yards and 28 touchdowns with the graduation of All-North MVP Darrius Bryant and quarterback Kody Smith, and the transfer of fullback Jason Smith. In their absence, speedy running back Densel Barnes takes over for Kody Smith in running the modified Wing-T offense, Connor Brown tries to fill Bryants shoes, and several newcomers will also see action in the backfield.
On defense, Marsell returns six starters, so he expects the Warriors to rely on that unit to stop the powerful running attacks in Section 3 Class A football.
Our team will be as good as our defense, Marsell said. We lost some very explosive weapons on offense, so we need some kids to step up and fill those shoes if we want to be competitive in every game.
The Warriors open at Oswego Friday night. In addition to a rugged Section 3 schedule, Indian River will play powerful LaSalle Institute of Troy in a nonleague home game on Sept. 27.
Indian River Warriors
2012 record: 7-2, 5-0 Class A National.
Coach: Cory Marsell (8th year, 58-12).
Players to watch: Densel Barnes (Jr., QB/RB, 42-499, 8 TD); Connor Brown (Jr., RB/LB); Tyler Wright (Jr., OL/DL); Tyler Sloley (RB/LB); Zach Stone (Jr., OL/DL); Deondre Grier (RB/DB); Jonah Raydo (OL/DL); Timothy Clyde (Sr., OL/DL); Jakese Crockett (Sr., RB/LB); Emmanul Daigle (Sr., TE/DE).