Osteen era set to start at MCHS
After posting a disappointing 4-7 record last season, the Marshall County Tigers football program is hoping to return to prominence under first-year head coach Thomas Osteen.
Having served as an assistant coach at Giles County High School under David O'Connor from 2007-12, Osteen helped the Bobcats achieve a tremendous run of success on the gridiron during that time. Giles County posted an impressive 64-15 record over that period and captured the 2009 Class 4A State title while reaching the semifinals in 2011 and 2012.
Although Osteen believes that Marshall County's program has the potential to reach those lofty heights, he believes it will take some time to reach those goals.
"I've been lucky to have been around a lot of good coaches and I know what it takes to win. I know that it's not all going to turnaround in one year, but we want to build a foundation and show improvement this season. I want us to improve each week and set a standard for how hard we play," said Osteen.
Osteen plans to run an up tempo Spread offense, but also wants to incorporate some power formations into the Tigers' attack.
"We definitely want to be a Spread offense most of the time, but we still want to have a power aspect to our game and will probably have an I-formation package. We want to be a physical football team. You're never going to be a consistently great team unless you're physical," said Osteen.
While he was fortunate to coach many exceptional athletes at Giles County, Osteen believes that the Tigers current group of backs and receivers have a chance to eclipse the skill position players that the Bobcats featured.
"This is as talented a group of skill players as I've ever coached. All five guys that we have out on the field are threats and I don't mind any of them getting the ball," said Osteen.
Headlining Marshall County's wide receiver corps is versatile senior Chris Walker, who finished with over 1,000 yards receiving last year. Along with possessing good speed, Walker has excellent hands and leaping ability and is adept at high pointing the ball. Walker has the ability to take it the distance when he gets the ball in the open field and will likely line up at tailback as well.
"Chris is our best all-around player. He's very talented, but is also a high character kid. He's a hard worker and the younger players look up to him," said Osteen.
Marshall County has another potential game breaker on the perimeter in sophomore wide receiver Jay Howard . While he is still learning the finer points of being a receiver, Howard is elusive in the open field and has ability to blow by defenders.
Senior Kacey Pleas and junior Darius McKenzie round out the rest of the receiving corps. Pleas has a good feel for the game and is sure handed receiver that can go over the middle, while McKenzie is a big bodied target and will also line up at tight end at times.
Junior Montrell Harris and sophomore Tre Crutcher could figure into the mix at receiver as well although Crutcher is currently sidelined by a leg injury. Both Harris and Crutcher are smart, dependable players and provide the Tigers with quality depth.
Sophomore Bennielle Hill will be MCHS' feature back. Hill brings a physical mentality to the tailback position and is hard to bring down with just one tackler. He also has good vision and is one of the fastest players on the team.
"Bennielle is a special talent. He has been nothing but a hard worker. He is a great player that plays hard all the time," said Osteen.
Hill has a pair of talented backups in sophomore D'Andre Brown and freshman Caleb Fields. Brown is another hard charging back with good speed, while Fields has the ability to make people miss in the open field.
When MCHS decides to line up in power formations, sophomore Tristan Maxwell and seniors Antonio Shelton and Dontae Baugh could all see time at fullback. Shelton and Baugh are both capable runners while Maxwell is a physical blocker.
Although Marshall County has to replace three-year starter Austin Stacey at quarterback, Osteen believes he has a suitable replacement in junior Ashton Posey. Posey has a good arm and has improved his accuracy since last season. He also runs well and can make things happen with his feet when the play breaks down.
The Tigers have a capable backup quarterback in Tanner Clark that can manage the offense should Posey go down with an injury this season.
While Marshall County has a potentially explosive group of position players, the success of the offense hinges on the development of an offensive line that was inconsistent last year.
Juniors Steven Clemmons and Jonathan Johnson will man the two tackle spots. Clemmons has good feet and quickness and will protect Posey's blindside at left tackle, while Johnson takes good angles at the point of attack and excels in run blocking.
At guard, the Tigers will call upon a pair of seniors in Hunter Hobby and Chad Page. Hobby is very strong and tough and moves well for a lineman. Page has developed into a physical run blocker and has the ability to drive defenders off the ball.
Junior Peyton Brown will lineup at center and is a very cerebral player who will make all the line calls for MCHS. Sophomore Hayes Crosslin will be the Tigers main backup on the offensive line and could see time at right tackle or center.
Osteen's biggest challenge this year will be shoring up a defense that yielded an average of 35.7 points per game last season. Marshall County will be switching to a 4-2-5 defensive look this year that should allow the Tigers to get more speed on the field and prevent the big plays that plagued them last year.
Hobby and junior Payton Hood will man the two defensive end spots upfront. Hobby is a gritty individual that makes plays because of his tenacity, while Hood has shown the most improvement along the defensive line and has a potential to be a dominant player with his combination of speed, strength, and size. Sophomore Prentice Davis will also see time at defensive end and has a lot of physical tools, but is inexperienced.
Marshall County will rely on a pair of sophomores in Blair Conger and Dartavious Lyttle to man the two defensive tackle spots. Conger is athletic and runs well for his size, while Lyttle is very strong and a good run stopper.
Shelton and junior Peyton Williams are expected to start at linebacker for the Tigers. Both players have the physical ability to play the position at a high level, but they need to make their production match their potential if Marshall County is going to make major strides defensively. Senior Gunner Southerland will be in the rotation at linebacker as well and is a smart, hard working player that provides MCHS with solid depth.
Walker is the leader of the secondary from his free safety position. Along with being good in pass coverage, he has become a more physical tackler and even saw time at linebacker in the preseason.
Hill and senior Cale Shelton will man the Sam and Star positions for the Tigers, which combine the responsibilities of both a safety and a linebacker depending on the type of offense that MCHS is facing. Hill is a big hitter that excels in run support, while Shelton has come on strong in the preseason after playing sparingly last year.
Josh Franklin is Marshall County's top cover corner and has the ideal combination of size, speed, and strength for the position. Senior Blake Darnell and junior Steven Dangerfield are vying for playing time at the other cornerback spot. Darnell is very physical and a sure tackler, while Dangerfield has good speed and is solid in pass coverage.
After watching University of Tennessee signee Aaron Medley handle all the kicking duties for the last four years, Marshall County has a major void to fill in the special teams department.
Damian Richard is currently handling field goals and kickoffs. While he can't match Medley's range, Richard has been accurate on extra points and short field goals so far. Freshman Caleb Estes could provide a challenge to Richard when he comes back from an injury.
McKenzie will likely be the punter for MCHS. He has a strong leg, but needs to improve his technique and consistency.
The Tigers have several explosive players to choose from for kick returns with Walker, Howard, Hill, and Fields being the most likely candidates so far.
Although Marshall County faces six teams that qualified for the postseason last year, the Tigers have the talent to increase their win total and possibly make some noise in the playoffs if they can improve as the season goes along.
"We have a brutal schedule this year and play five schools that are bigger than us. We may not be ready for that right now, but I want us to compete in each game. We need to get our confidence back. It's started to grow, but there's nothing like wins to solidify that belief," said Osteen.
MCHS opens the season with consecutive home games against Shelbyville and Independence before going on the road the next three weeks to face Page, Columbia Central, and Spring Hill. After hosting Franklin County and Cascade, the Tigers travel to Nashville the next two weeks to take on Christ Presbyterian Academy and Stratford. Marshall County then ends the regular season with a showdown against Giles County.
2014 Marshall County Tigers Football Schedule
Date Opponent Location Time
Aug. 22 Shelbyville Home 7:00
Aug. 29 Independence Home 7:00
Sept. 5 Page Away 7:00
Sept. 12 Columbia Central Away 7:00
Sept. 19 Spring Hill Away 7:00
Sept. 26 Franklin County Home 7:00
Oct. 3 Cascade Home 7:00
Oct. 17 CPA Away 7:00
Oct. 24 Stratford Away 7:00
Oct. 31 Giles County Home 7:00
2014 Marshall County Tigers Football Roster
Number Name Position Grade
1 Antonio Shelton FB/LB Sr.
2 Steven Dangerfield CB Jr.
3 Caleb Fields RB/WR Fr.
4 Jay Howard WR/QB Soph.
5 Blake Darnell CB Sr.
6 Cale Shelton S/OLB Sr.
7 Bennielle Hill RB/S Soph.
8 Michael Barnwell DB Soph.
9 Chris Walker WR/S Sr.
10 Kacey Pleas WR Sr.
11 Montrell Harris WR Jr.
13 Malik Harris S Fr.
14 Matt Runions WR Fr.
15 Iendi Biggers OLB Jr.
16 Tanner Clark QB Jr.
17 D'Andre Brown RB/FS Soph.
18 Darius McKenzie TE Jr.
19 Ashton Posey QB Jr.
21 Josh Franklin CB Jr.
22 Curtis Keiler WR/TE Jr.
23 Tre Fields RB Soph.
24 Kamron Liggett RB/SS Fr.
25 Tre Crutcher WR/DB Soph.
26 Hunter Cummings WR/LB Fr.
27 Quinnie White RB/DB Sr.
28 Devin Martinez CB Jr.
29 Gunner Southerland LB Sr.
30 Dontae Baugh RB/LB Sr.
31 Donathan Tears DB Soph.
32 J.Q. Haislip CB Soph.
33 Noah Jorgenson WR Soph.
34 Caleb Estes K Fr.
35 Joseph Carter RB/DB Fr.
38 Dathan Achord WR Soph.
40 Joseph Freeland LB Fr.
41 Tristan Maxwell FB/DE Soph.
42 Allante Watts WR/LB Fr.
43 Prentice Davis DE Jr.
44 Noah Adams DE/LB Fr.
46 Damian Richard K Sr.
47 Tommy Cameron LB Sr.
49 Peyton Williams LB Jr.
50 George Adams OL/DT Fr.
51 Nathan Fuller DE Soph.
52 Rhad Stephens OL Soph.
54 Hunter Hobby OL/DE Sr.
56 Bryan Westmoreland OL Soph.
57 Tavi McLean DL Fr.
59 Rudy Ramos OL Fr.
60 Payton Hood DE Jr.
61 Bryan Campuzano OL/DL Fr.
62 Chad Page OL Sr.
63 Taylor Clark OL Fr.
64 Blair Conger DT Soph.
65 Peyton Brown OL Jr.
66 Ben Johnson OL/DL Fr.
67 Hayes Crosslin OL Soph.
68 Josh Johnson OL/DL Fr.
69 Jamaria Ridley OL Fr.
70 Steven Clemmons OL Jr.
71 Dartavious Lyttle DT Soph.
72 Dave Roberts OL/DE Fr.
73 Billy Cheek OL/LB Fr.
74 Lamarcus Dodson OL/DL Fr.
75 Tommy Crabtree OL Jr.
76 Jacob Fisher OL/DL Fr.
77 Michael Wolfe OL Soph.
78 Micajah Gold OL Soph.
79 Jonathan Johnson OL Jr.
80 Jerry Underwood DB Sr.
82 Grant Agnew WR Fr.
83 Camryn Ruiz WR/DB Fr.
84 Justin Dunkle FB/LB Sr.