Kyler Hall doesn’t see any reason why Maclay can’t be recognized as a football school, too.
The Marauders’ fledging program is coming off a nine-win season and a North Florida Conference championship in Hall’s first year as coach.
Last year’s team also featured one of the Big Bend’s most electric players in running back Lee Williams, who rushed for 2,138 yards, scored 28 touchdowns and signed with Florida A&M to play football and run track.
That overall success and good vibes carried into the offseason.
Hall, a former Florida State football player, embraced increased participation during spring and summer workouts. After ending last season with 22 players, Maclay, which plays as an independent, is expected to open practice on Monday with 35 players.
After many years of deliberation, Maclay, which has a rich tradition in athletics, started its football program in 2007.
“There is a lot of excitement around the program,” said Hall, who served as defensive coordinator at Leon before being hired as a first-time head coach at Maclay in March 2011. His staff includes former Seminoles Tarlos Thomas and Jamie Robinson, in addition to John Gladden, son of former FSU coach Jim Gladden.
“There are so many wonderful opportunities at Maclay, not only in the classroom but on the field, and these kids want to be known as a football school, too,” Hall said. “Everyone is really working hard to make that happen.”
While the Marauders lost just four seniors from last year’s team, Williams’ departure left a huge void. Hall said a rotation of four players could be utilized in an attempt to replace Williams’ production, including incoming freshman Stephon Simpkins.
Senior quarterback Edgar Moore also expects to play a larger role in the offense, which features nice skill but must replace three linemen.
“Lee was obviously a huge part of our offense, so we are going to have to spread it out more, throw the ball around,” Moore said.
“We threw it last year, but we are going to be throwing a lot more this year, especially on third-down situations. More of the pressure comes on me to move the chains. It’s going to change but we are still confident in our system and how everything is going to work out.”
All-state soccer selection Jamie Covington and versatile Logan Eagen are also expected to play key roles for the Marauders this season. Maclay’s schedule features early tests against FAMU High and Leon.
“We have a lot of great athletes and I think we are going to be fine,” Moore said.
Dustin Watson, Munroe’s record-setting quarterback and three-sport standout, has transferred to Liberty County. While Watson was used in the shotgun, spread formation at Munroe, he is learning the veer offense at Liberty County.
“It has been a lot of fun, a good transition and I am having a lot of fun,” said Watson, an All-Big Bend selection in both football and baseball last year as a junior.
Rivals.com’s Top 10 Big Bend seniors
1. Reggie Davis (Lincoln)
2. James Hearns (Lincoln)
3. Taj Williams (Lincoln)
4. Ira Denson (Madison County)
5. Khalid Thomas (Godby)
6. Shedrick Williams (Madison County)
7. Ander Bodkin (Marianna)
8. Austin Logan (Florida High)
9. Tim Longmire (Godby)
10. Branton Lee (NFC)