Long-time Polo football observers may look at this year's team and wonder, 'Where's the beef?'
Well, the beef is still there, but a good portion of it is on the lean side. Fourth-year head coach Andrew Hofer anticipates having an offensive front that averages about 195 pounds across the front, small by traditional Marco standards.
"We're in a period right now where we don't have those 250-pounders rolling through our hallways," Hofer said, "so we're playing with a different kind of lineman. That means we're playing a little bit differently, to use our speed to our advantage. You adjust, to do what you have to do."
The smaller, rangier offensive front will actually fit in nicely with what Hofer has planned. He wants to use more of an up-tempo system, to squeeze in as many plays as possible, and to take advantage of good overall team speed.
"All across the board, we feel like we're fairly quick," Hofer said.
Offseason workouts, held each weekday morning at the school, were geared toward legwork. Junior quarterback Brody Grobe noted he did very little upper-body work during the summer. Players such as Kevin Cheeseman and Brad Cavanaugh, who were state-quality sprinters in track last spring, are even faster now.
"We're just so much quicker and faster," Grobe said, "and we want to use it to our advantage to out-hustle teams."
Grobe is part of a backfield that doesn't figure to have any one star, but potentially, a host of them. He noted up to 10 players could get five carries in a game.
"Our team is going to be perfectly fine sharing the ball," Grobe said. "The backs are going to block for each other, we respect each other, and we're going to play as a team."
The Marcos went 4-5 a year ago, and a Week 9 loss to Warren snuffed out any playoff hopes. Polo will be looking to get back to the postseason for the first time since 2009, when it went 7-3.
"This year's team, we're looking to get revenge from last year's season," Grobe said.
The senior class will be helped by a loaded junior class that has posted a 17-1 high school record thus far – the only defeat by two points to Galena 2 years ago. Many of those juniors saw varsity time a year ago, so they're already used to that level of play.
"We're here to win," said Richie Bartnick, one of the juniors who played on the varsity last season. "We've been let down the last couple of years, with the playoffs, so we're looking to at least get to the playoffs. That will take at least five wins, but more would be nice."
Did you know
Polo's junior class has gone 17-1 in high school thus far, with the lone loss a two-point decision to Galena 2 years ago.