FLORENCE — While next week high school football teams around the state will find themselves playing under the bright lights on Friday night, this Friday featured, instead, some early afternoon football in a jamboree to prepare for the impending season.
On Friday morning Marshfield's football team traveled to Florence to take on Siuslaw, Bandon and Pleasant Hill. Completing 12 plays on both offense and defense against each opponent it was a time for the teams to — for the first time all season — face new competition.
Marshfield senior Josiah Niblett breaks through a tackle against Siuslaw on Friday. Niblett had one touchdown on the day for the Pirates.
“The goal is to just come out and not to make mistakes and execute what we’ve been practicing the past two weeks. Just play with a lot of effort and energy and have fun,” said Marshfield head coach John Lemmons. “We’ve got a lot to work on but I thought we saw a lot of positive today. We’ve got to clean some things up and just keep getting better.”
Heading into the season Marshfield is replacing 18 of 22 starters from last season’s team that made a run to the state semifinals. While facing a team coming off a winless season (Siuslaw), a Class 3A team that was three games under .500 a season ago (Pleasant Hill) and a Class 2A team missing its starting quarterback (Bandon) won’t answer questions about how the Pirates will do in the Sky-Em League, the competition put new faces on display.
Stepping into an increased offensive role was junior Noah Niblett, who scored three of the team’s six touchdowns on the afternoon. Niblett had scoring receptions of 27 and 7 yards to go with a 20-yard run. His brother, senior running back Josiah Niblett, had the longest touchdown for the team with a 35-yard run.
Under center for the Pirates was first-year starter sophomore Dom Montiel. Montiel threw for three touchdowns — two to Noah Niblett and the other a 12-yard pass to Ezra Waterman — in addition to a 1-yard quarterback keeper on fourth down against Siuslaw.
“I saw some maturity, didn’t look like a sophomore quarterback, made some great decisions,” said Lemmons. “Didn’t make the right decisions all the time but you know, he did some good things and I was really pleased with his effort, decision making and leadership.”
On defense the Pirates held Siuslaw scoreless while Pleasant Hill quarterback Max Smith was able to roll out, extend the play and find a receiver in the end zone. With the majority of Marshfield’s backups in Bandon scored two touchdowns — which prompted the backups to head back to the bench. Marshfield outscored Pleasant Hill 2-1 in touchdowns, Siuslaw 3-0 and were outscored by Bandon 2-1.
“I thought the defense did a good job. Same as offense, had a few coverage breakdowns but overall, I thought the kids played real hard and flew around. And flew to the ball and did a good job,” said Lemmons.
Now the focus for Marshfield turns to the first game of the regular season: North Bend.
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“Here we go. Yeah, we have a big challenge this week,” said Lemmons. “The Civil War game everyone gets motivated and fired up for that so it’s going to be fun. I’m excited to get back and watch some film and look at them and get ready for Friday night.”
North Bend hosts Marshfield at 7 p.m. on Sept. 6.
For Bandon, the smallest school at the jamboree, the team was looking to compete and stay healthy. Earlier this week the team’s starting quarterback, Braydon Freitag, injured his calf, which kept him from competing in the jamboree. He is probable for next week’s season opener against Glide. The injuries continued with an injury to a starting guard and a season-ending injury for a running back.
Regardless of personnel on the field, the goal stayed the same for head coach Aaron Freitag.
“I’m just looking for execution. See if the guys are doing their job. That’s really all I’m after,” he said. “We did all right. We did decent. I think we did about what I expected to come up here and play against these schools.”
The Tigers tried out a pair of quarterbacks — sophomore Joel Hammons and junior Wyatt Dyer — in the younger Freitag’s absence. Dyer threw a pair of touchdowns against Marshfield in the span of three plays for the highlights of the day.
“It’s good for us to see good competition like that, good athletes. And a good football program, it helps them so hopefully they look at that and they think I can hang with this guy. I can compete with him. And maybe they are seeing stuff and thinking that’s where we want to be,” said Aaron Freitag.
Now Bandon’s focus turns to Glide for next week’s week season opener. Last season the Wildcats made a run to the state quarterfinals. To prepare, Bandon is looking to focus on the little things.
“It means as a staff we’re sitting down this weekend looking at film and at everything we did and saying we’ve really got to work on this, we’ve got to shore this up,” said Freitag. “How can we execute this better?”
The Tigers host Glide next Friday at home at 7 p.m.