MARQUETTE - Even without being a science teacher, Dave L'Huillier knows it's easier for a body in motion to stay in motion than it is to get that body started from scratch.
So the Marquette Senior High School varsity football coach wants to keep his team moving forward rather than allowing the Redmen to stop or take a step back.
"Last year we continued to keep building in the right direction," he said about MSHS' 7-3 season and second playoff appearance in his two years at the helm. "We won our conference for the first time in more than 35 years, which was another big step for our program to take.
Marquette Senior High School halfback Danny Brisson (6) runs behind the block of offensive tackle Rainger Rossway (76) during the Redmen’s 2011 season opener against Detroit Mumford on Aug. 27, 2011, in Marquette. The Redmen open 2012 at home against Detroit Denby on Friday. (Journal file photo)
"We want to be competitive with the top teams in the Great Northern Conference year in and year out."
He noted that Kingsford and Menominee are perennial powerhouses, Gladstone has a strong contingent coming back this season and Escanaba can never be counted out as the Redmen's lone GNC loss last year, 43-42 in overtime.
He has a challenge on his hands this season, however, with the loss of some greatly skilled players.
MARQUETTE 44, Detroit Mumford 6
MARQUETTE 35, Cheboygan 7
MARQUETTE 49, Sault Ste. Marie 13
Escanaba 43, Marquette 42
MARQUETTE 48, Gladstone 6
MARQUETTE 20, Kingsford 16
MARQUETTE 10, Menominee 7
MARQUETTE 20, Negaunee 14
Calumet 31, Marquette 6
Fenton 45, Marquette 21
Aug. 24 - Detroit Denby, 7 p.m.
Aug. 30 - At Cheboygan, 7 p.m.
Sept. 7 - Sault Ste. Marie, 7 p.m.
Sept. 14 - Escanaba, 7 p.m.
Sept. 21 - At Gladstone, 7 p.m.
Sept 28 - At Kingsford, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 5 - At Menominee, 8 p.m.
Oct. 12 - Negaunee, 7:30 p.m.
"We had six of our kids participate in the (Upper Peninsula) All-Star game, so you know we had some quality individuals last season," he said about a set of players who have now graduated.
They included top running backs Garrett Pentecost and Kasaim Koonnala, who earned just as much praise for his efforts as a linebacker on defense.
In addition, last year's starting quarterback Curt Calovecchi won't be playing his senior season while he recovers from an injury.
However, L'Huillier still sees plenty to work with this season.
"Our strength will be on the lines," he said. "On offense, we have (seniors) Joe Iwanicki, Ryan Frazier and Rainger Rossway. Games are won and lost by the offensive line."
That trio will also be among seven players to see the most time as defensive tackles and ends, too.
"Most of our offensive line rotates into the defense," the coach said. "The biggest thing now is find the right rotation and playing time for them."
Iwanicki, at 5-foot-11 and 215 pounds, gets the most attention at right guard as an All-U.P. First Team selection last season and now a three-year starter.
The line is anchored at tackle with "big boy" returning starters Rossway (5-10, 270) on the left and another senior, Jared Gigot (6-3, 275), opposite him.
Left guard is a tossup between senior Alex Stack (5-11, 195), junior Paul Smith (5-11, 190) and sophomore Alec Nannestad (5-11, 200), while junior Patrick Dowling (5-11, 175) and senior Grayson Kidd (5-11, 195) are vying to play center.
The Redmen even have nice heft with senior tight end Frazier (6-3, 260), a three-year starter converted from tackle, and the wingspan of A.J. Grazulis (6-5, 210). Both are pass-catching threats.
L'Huillier will pare down a three-man race for quarterback to just one by Friday's opener as senior Zack Sherbinow (6-0, 160) has been challenged by juniors Nick Kamrada (6-1, 160) and David Bashaw (6-0, 165).
"It's been a close battle all the way through," L'Huillier said. "We're looking for the one best all-around player to lead this team."
Projected starting running backs are seniors Alex Sherbinow (6-0, 205) at fullback and Danny Brisson (6-0, 180) at halfback, with senior Steve Newby (5-11, 180) and junior Jimmy St. Cyr (5-8, 160) as next in line.
Sherbinow received significant playing time when Pentecost was injured at midseason last year.
Top receivers will be senior Nathan LaMora (5-11, 180) at wingback, to be backed up by junior Shane Duquette (6-1, 185), while at split end are senior Alex Gagnon (5-10, 155) and sophomore Brett Beauchamp (5-9, 160).
The Redmen's 4-4 defense is anchored by Iwanicki, a second-year starter with that unit, and either Frazier or Grazulis at end, with Stack and Dowling starting at tackle and Rossway and Gigot to rotate in.
Sherbinow returns to start again at inside linebacker and will be joined by a combination of Nannestad, Paul Smith and junior Gabe Apple (5-11, 185).
Three more guys could rotate through two outside LB spots - LaMora, Newby and Duquette - while Brisson looks to start again at free safety and Gagnon and either Bashaw or Beauchamp at cornerback.
Handling kicking duties is sophomore Max Bednarek (5-9, 150), while Sherbinow will punt and Beauchamp is slated as the top kick returner to be joined by St. Cyr and Brisson.
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.