With senior quarterback Josh Rose running Mariner’s option offense to perfection in 2003, the Tritons averaged nearly 350 total yards per game, third best among area teams.
Rose accounted for 46 percent of that total himself, leading Mariner in both rushing and passing.
With Rose’s brother, Mark, a sophomore, taking over the offensive reins, Tritons coach Robert Butz said his defense may have to carry a bigger share of the load this season.
Enter Mariner’s fearsome foursome.
Ends Josh Raven and Brandon Christiansen, and tackles Joe Johnson and Shane Tucker form what Butz said could be one of the best defensive fronts ever for the Tritons.
“Those guys are going to make it easy for the rest of our defense to do their jobs,” he said. “We’ve got two ends that can fly around the field and two big, strong kids inside to close everything up.”
Raven, a 6-foot-2, 200-pound senior, has the best pedigree of the group — his brother is Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Greg Spires, a Mariner graduate.
“He’s the best athlete,” Johnson said of Raven. “Speed and quickness, he’s got that. He’s real good with his hands too.”
Butz said Johnson, however, could be the best of the group. The 5-8, 272-pound junior is nicknamed “Tank.”
“He just overpowers everybody,” Raven said. “There’s not too many people around that can handle him.”
Tucker, a 5-11, 225-pound senior, patrols the middle of the line next to Johnson.
“He’s more of a technique-type player,” Raven said. “He reads the blocks real well.”
Christiansen, a 5-9, 185-pound senior is the newcomer to the group as a first-year varsity starter.
“He’s going to get after the ball and chase it down,” Tucker said.
Tucker said he and his defensive linemates spend the last 30 minutes of each Mariner practice doing endurance drills, something he believes will pay off once the season begins.
“In the fourth quarter, when the guys across from us are getting tired, we’re going to still be fresh,” he said. “That’s going to be the difference.”
Front four could be best in school history