One of the most prolific quarterback to receiver combinations in Elmira Notre Dame history will continue down the road at Mansfield University after Derek Marshall signed a letter of intent Thursday to play sprint football for the Mountaineers.
Marshall, a second-team Class D all-state pick at wide receiver/defensive back, joins quarterback Hunter Thomas, who signed April 1 to play for the Mountaineers.
“There’s a connection,” Marshall said. “Most of the time it’s him reading my route, but I can tell what he’s thinking and what’s open.”
Marshall had the second-best receiving season in school history in 2013, catching 53 passes for 921 yards in only eight games. Thomas’ total of 1,503 passing yards also ranks second in team history for one season.
Crusaders head coach Mike D’Aloisio said last season ranked among the most enjoyable for him and his staff, especially considering Notre Dame had to forfeit its opener because of a lack of players. Thomas and Marshall were among eight seniors who led the team to a division title and a 7-2 record.
“It’s good a lot of them will be going on and playing football,” D’Aloisio said. “Hunter and Derek at Mansfield, Tommy Agan’s going to St. John Fisher, Brian Hale and Eric Brennan are going to be playing at Alfred (University). Not only will it be fun to watch them play, but they’ll be playing against each other in some instances.”
Marshall, 17, said he also considered Alfred, along with the possibility of playing baseball at St. John Fisher. The opportunity to be close to family and friends at Mansfield was a big draw for the Elmiran. Several teammates and family members attended Thursday’s ceremony in the school’s library.
“I decided I wanted to stay close to home near my family and have that support from friends who are going to the school,” Marshall said. “It just keeps things at a balanced level. I’m not too far away, I’m doing what I love and if I wanted I could pursue baseball if I have a good enough year this year.”
His mom, Pam, is among the most vocal supporters at Derek’s athletic events.
“She’s definitely my biggest cheerleader,” he said. “I definitely will be able to hear her for sure. She’s my mom; she’s going to cheer as loud as possible.”
Mansfield plays in the Collegiate Sprint Football League, where players must weigh 172 pounds or less. The Mountaineers were 1-6 last season, their fifth as a member of the league.
Marshall, listed at 6-foot and 175 pounds on the football roster, is looking at playing receiver, tight end or defensive back for the Mounties.
“Everyone who’s in the league is really fast and quick,” he said. “It’s definitely going to be hard getting around them. If I get in the open field I know I’ve got to keep running straight because they’re coming behind me fast.”
Among his potential majors at Mansfield are business, psychology and criminal justice.
Marshall and Thomas have played football, basketball and baseball together at Notre Dame throughout high school.
“I met Hunter in eighth grade (at Holy Family Junior High),” Marshall said. “He walked into my school and he did not know anyone. I was the first person to say, ‘Hey, I’ll introduce you to my friends.’ We’ve been playing sports together since eighth grade and we haven’t stopped.”
Both were key members of the basketball team that won the Section 4 Class C championship this past season.
“They know how to win and they’re going to be taking a winning tradition to Mansfield University,” D’Aloisio said. “They seem to be on the same wave length throwing the ball and running patterns, but the thing I liked about both those guys is they could make the big play when we needed the big play, but also they would make the unselfish play when we needed that.”