THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
Rookie Coach To Lead Marine Football Fortunes
The Marinette Marines have got a good thing going.
In the wildly tough Bay Conference, the Marines are right on the brink of being a force in the loop. The conference's top spot, over the last few years, has belonged to West DePere and that's not likely to change any time real soon. Seymour and Hortonville both had six-win seasons last year and will probably continue to be tough to deal with. But the Marines, 4-3 in the Bay loop a year ago and right on the verge of breaking through as a top team, are hoping that their arc of improvement will continue this season behind the leadership of new head coach and Marinette native Andy Walters.
"I'm pretty excited to take over," Walters said. "Being able to come back and coach your alma mater, is something that I think is a little extra special."
Walters' football resume is a full circle affair. Following his graduation from Marinette High, Walters spent four years in the UW-Whitewater football program and then further developed his sense for the game as a student assistant coach for the Warhawks. But it didn't take Walters long to find his way back to Marinette. He was hired on as an assistant football coach for the Marines seven years ago and will now turn the page onto year number eight while taking the reins of a team he is more than familiar with.
That said, Walters knows the Marinette group well enough to know that his athletes are on a steady course for improvement and nothing drastic needs to happen as far as changes from last year to this year are concerned.
"We're not going to be making any wholesale changes," declared Walters. "We have our little tweaks here and there that will be new for this season. But as far as the offensive and defensive schemes go, we're going to be keeping things the way they are."
With the 2013 season opener at Seymour on August 23 fast approaching, Walters is calmly dealing with a problem that might have a new head coach losing a lot of sleep and hair. Namely, losing his team's entire starting offensive line to graduation. If coach Walters' demeanor while talking about the predicament is to be any indication of how he is going to be handling any crisis that comes up in the future, there's good reason to believe the team is in good hands.
The new Marine frontman is confident that a talented core of juniors will be able to hold their own in the trenches.
"I think that our junior class of athletes compliments the senior class very well," explained Walters. "They have some athletic linemen that I think will help us out quite a bit. They're going to have to step into their roles and progress quickly. That's going to be key. But we want playoffs to be the expectation now. But we're not competing just to make it to the playoffs anymore. The kids expect to make it now and once they get there, they're going to expect to do some damage."