Mariko Odom doesn’t want to talk about it.
He’d prefer to talk about this year. Forget last season and how things ended.
Oh, if it was only that easy. It’s difficult to talk about the present without addressing the past.
Odom, a junior, was one of the key cogs in Riverdale’s 2011 season that ended in Maryville in the Class 6A state semifinals. He was the Warriors’ second-leading rusher with 12 total touchdowns.
And he admittedly made a key error in Riverdale’s 42-14 loss to the eventual state champion Rebels.
Odom fumbled the opening kickoff to start the second half in the semifinals. Three plays later, Maryville scored a touchdown to allow the Rebels to extend their lead to 21-7. Things quickly unraveled from there.
“I wasn’t satisfied with our season,” said Odom, a 5-foot-8, 165-pound athlete. “It left a sour taste in my mouth.
“Every time someone brings it up, it hurts me.”
That’s when he begins thinking about the fumble.
But that was last year.
Odom is ready to focus on 2012, which could feature another strong season from the wingback and safety who has been a starter since his freshman year. Odom rushed for 922 yards with eight rushing touchdowns in 14 games in 2011. He was quarterback Dillon Woodruff’s favorite target, catching a team-high 27 passes for 399 yards and four more scores.
On defense, he had 67 tackles with three interceptions and two fumble recoveries. This year he will be looked on to be one of the anchors in the secondary that graduated three of the four defensive backs that started at the beginning of this past season. Ricardo Terry, Tad Onwu and Austin McGrone will join Odom in the secondary.
Riverdale coach Ron Aydelott said Odom can definitely be a plus, but he must be focused.
“Mariko is as good as Mariko wants to be,” Aydelott said.
Aydelott said despite the graduation of two-time 1,000-yard rusher Adam Davenport at fullback, there are pieces in place to give the Warriors a potent run game beyond Odom.
Peyton Phillips and Scottie Boykin, who both start at linebacker, will likely share fullback duties and are both strong runners. And Terry has continued to improve as an offensive threat. He was invited to a Top Gun camp earlier this year.
“I really think Ricardo Terry, as an all-around threat, really helps Mariko,” Aydelott said.
Additionally, Dreko Little, an Oakland transfer who sat out last season, could also provide depth in the run game. McGrone, Onwu, Brandon Stewart and Gerold Oliver also could help at wingback.
Odom agreed that there are enough weapons on offense to be very potent.
“I feel like we can do anything we want because we’ve got speed all over the field,” Odom said.
“We can run the ball. Once we throw the ball, it’s hard to defend us.”