MARQUETTE - He lost some talented players to graduation from a 5-4 team of a year ago that made the MHSAA postseason playoffs.
Still, Marquette Senior High School varsity head football coach Dave L'Huillier is confident his 2013 Redmen can extend the school's postseason run to a fourth straight season.
"If we can stay away from major injuries, we can be very competitive and continue our playoff run," said L'Huillier, who has 13 letterman - including 10 starters - back.
Members of the 2013 Marquette Senior High School football team are, in the front row from left, Kevin St. Amour (manager), Nathan Schlorke, Demetrise Mullen, Brett Beauchamp, Hunter Mason, Cam Grant, Pearce Manson, Steven Snow, Paul Zyburt and Gabe Apple. Middle row: Kurt Burmeister, Trevor Romback, Holt Richards, Shane Duquette, Damian Leuzzo, Connor Brazeau, Nick Borgialli, Daniel Howard, Brett Place, Paul Smith, David Bashaw, Larry Burnette, Patrick Dowling, Per Rahm and Luke McAuliffe. Back row: Elijah Weber, Alec Nannestad, Randy Plourde, Collin Laakso, Brandon Lotterman, Todd Koski (assistant coach), Dave L’Huillier (head coach); Jim Marana (assistant coach), Dan Flynn (assistant coach), Jake Cromell, Kyle Dickinson, Jared Burbey, Trevor Koski, Lucas Klingler and Beaudoin Glass. Not pictured is assistant coach Jim Iwanicki. (Journal photo by Craig Remsburg)
"We have a close, hard-working group of players who push each other and encourage each other."
MSHS will face a "challenging" schedule this season, with six of its eight opponents coming off playoff campaigns.
"I'm excited about it," L'Huillier, 43, said. "We want to bring the program to another level."
(5-3 regular season, 5-4 overall, 1-3 GNC)
Marquette 35, Detroit Denby 12
Marquette 34, Cheboygan 21
Marquette 7, Sault Ste. Marie 0
Escanaba 31, Marquette 22
Marquette 35, Gladstone 14
Kingsford 21, Marquette 14
Menominee 42, Marquette 7
Marquette 34, Negaunee 26
Div. 2 playoffs:
Midland 42, Marquette 7
Aug. 30: Traverse City Central, 7 p.m.
Sept. 6: Cheboygan, 7 p.m.
Sept. 13: at Sault Ste. Marie, 7 p.m.
Sept. 20: at Escanaba, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 27: Gladstone, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 4: Kingsford, 7 p.m.
Oct. 18: at Negaunee, 7 p.m.
Oct. 25: Menominee, 7 p.m.
The Redmen will open at home at 7 p.m. Friday against Traverse City Central.
"They lost to Midland in a second-round playoff game last season, "L'Huillier noted. "It will be a very good test for us early.
"T.C. Central had five sophomores in the playoffs last season, so we know (the Trojans) will be experienced."
The MSHS coach, a 1988 MSHS and 1995 Northern Michigan University graduate with a 20-10 overall record, says his team will operate on offense largely with a wing-T base and some out of a shotgun."
Leading the pack will be returning quarterback Brett Place (6-1, 190 junior). Connor Brazeau (6-3, 175 junior) will also battle for playing time.
"Place can run or throw, and Brazeau has a nice arm," L'Huillier noted.
Brett Beauchamp (5-8, 160 junior) has been moved from wide receiver to halfback, where Demetrise Mullen (5-9, 170 sophomore) and Nathan Schlorke (5-8, 140 junior) are in the mix. Paul Smith (6-1, 205 senior) is at fullback.
"He's a power runner who didn't get a lot of carries last season," L'Huillier said.
The coach said "we have a lot of depth" at wide receiver, with Kurt Burmeister (6-3, 200 senior), Shane Duquette (6-2, 195 senior), basketball standout Larry Burnette (6-1, 185 senior), David Bashaw (6-0, 175 senior) and Cam Grant (5-9, 155 senior) all looking for playing time.
"We'll be rotating them," L'Huillier said. "All of them work hard at running precise routes and have the capability of making good plays."
Gabe Apple (5-10, 200 senior) - a "good athlete with excellent hands" - will be at tight end.
MSHS lost four offensive linemen to graduation, including the tight end. Only center Pat Dowling (6-0, 180 senior) and guard Alec Nannestad (5-11, 205 junior) are back.
Jared Burbey (5-10, 220 senior) and Lucas Klingler (5-11, 190 junior) are also penciled in at guard, with Holt Richards (6-3, 275 junior), Damian Leuzzo (6-4, 260 senior) and Randy Plourde (6-0, 220 senior) likely to see playing time at tackle.
"By the end of the season, this group has the opportunity to be good," L'Huillier, in his fourth season as the MSHS head coach and 25th season in the program overall, said.
"We're hoping it takes only a couple of weeks for them to mesh. It's a matter of how long it takes for the line to gel."
Max Bednarek (5-10, 160 junior) is a soccer player who will be a placekicker and punter for the Redmen.
In L'Huillier's 4-4 base defense that he says can adjust to shotgun and spread offenses, Leuzzo, Plourde, Richards and Beaudon Glass (5-10, 250 junior) will man the tackle positions.
At end will be Burnette, Klingler and-or Richards.
Returnee Apple, Smith and Nannestad will man the inside linebacker spots, with Brazeau, Duquette and Trevor Koski (5-10, 165 junior) on the outside.
"We have some experience here," L'Huillier said. "The defensive linemen have to hold their gaps, but we have some linebackers who can play."
Beauchamp and Bashaw return at cornerback, with Cam Grant (5-9, 155 senior). Mullen - "he's quick, a good tackler and gets to the ball", the coach said - will be at safety, with Place as a backup.
Former head coaches Jim Marana (Westwood) and Dan Flynn (Escanaba) will be assisting L'Huillier, as will veteran assistants Todd Koski and Jim Iwanicki.
"Top to bottom, it's a phenomenal staff," L'Huillier said, adding former MSHS head coach John Tiziani is heading the school's junior varsity team.