Considering Marshall High School came close to not fielding a varsity football team this season, it’s hardly a downer that it had to forfeit its season-opener against San Rafael. So what if the Phoenix have to start the year 0-1, without ever hitting an opponent? They will rise again, said first-year Marshall coach Gerald Rankin.
“We’ll be respectable and play the game the right way,” said Rankin, who takes over a team that finished 1-9 overall and 0-6 in San Francisco Section-Academic Athletic Association play last year. “This year [from a record standpoint] will be rough, and we all expect it. But we’re headed in the right direction.”
Rankin, who has been coaching either youth or high school football since 1980, wasn’t hired until the first or second week of June. That meant the few returning players Marshall had, along with any potential newcomers, didn’t take part in spring practice or summer 7-on-7 passing leagues. Without the requisite practice time along with the fact that some players only got their physicals three weeks ago, Rankin knew his team wasn’t ready to hit the field on Friday against San Rafael, so the Phoenix had to forfeit the contest.
“We’ve got some decent numbers, about 30 kids, but a lot of them have no football experience,” Rankin said.
Despite the preseason adversity, Rankin said his players will represent the school well. Even if the Phoenix are undermanned from a talent standpoint, they intend to play with conviction and strength. Brothers and two-way linemen Justin and Osana Sione are the centerpiece of the team, along with running back Quintrell Anderson and quarterback Patrick McFadden.
“These guys will carry us all year,” Rankin said. “If the other kids can step up to their level of play, I’ll be happy. If they don’t, I’ll still be happy as long as they give a great effort.”
Rankin knows he’s going to have to keep things simple, so expect Marshall to stick to a run-oriented attack on offense. The good news is both McFadden and Anderson are dynamic runners, especially Anderson, who needs just a sliver of daylight to bust off a big gain.
“Quintrell is a hell of a back,” Rankin said. “We just need some blocking in front of him.”
This season will clearly be a rebuilding one for Marshall, which looks to use 2013 as a springboard for the coming years.
“Right now we’re just trying to field a team,” Rankin said. “But I’m confident we’ll do things the right way, and as long as we do that, we’ll be fine.”
Editor’s note: This is part of a series of San Francisco prep football previews.