Marsh Valley High School
Conference: 3A South East Idaho Conference
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Head Coach: Doug Armstrong
Years as Head Coach: 2nd Season
Previous Experience: Assistant at Marsh Valley - 6 Years
Record Last Year: 1-7
State Titles: 2004
Caden May, FB/LB, senior
Cody Goodworth, TB/CB, senior
Isaac Bowman, WR/LB, senior
Justin Ketner, OL/LB, senior
Lance Montross, OL/DL, senior
Tanner Branson, OL/DL, junior
Payton Campbell, RB/LB, junior
Parker Armstrong, TE/LB, junior
Marshall Gunnell, OL/LB, junior
Conn O’Doherty, OL/DL, junior
Returning Players with Honors:
Caden May – First Team All-Conference FB, Second Team LB
Justin Ketner – First Team All-Conference OL
Conn O’Doherty – Second Team All-Conference OL
Cody Goodworth – Honorable Mention All-Conference RB, First Team SS
Lance Montross – Honorable Mention All-Conference OL, Second Team DL
Isaac Bowman – First Team All-Conference LB
Key Players lost from last year:
Tucker Eddins, WR/CB – First Team All-Conference
Incoming impact players:
Tanner Branson, OL/DL
Written by: Matt Harris
The Marsh Valley Eagles football program is on the rise. A record of 1-7 in 2016 may not convince you of that, but make no doubt: Marsh Valley football is on its way back.
“Every Fall, We Rise,” said head coach Doug Armstrong, referring to his team’s motto. “We want the team to know that no matter the challenge or setback that we can rise up and not only face that challenge, but overcome the challenge if we work together.”
There have certainly been challenges in the Marsh Valley football program. The team has won only five games since the start of the 2012 season, including suffering through two winless seasons in 2013 and 2014. Morale was low and numbers were low. And while the team struggled to a one win season in 2017, don’t let the record fool you: plenty of positive advances have been made in Arimo since Armstrong’s arrival last year.
“The team has really responded well in their second year of playing under the current system and we are further ahead this year due to the familiarity with the system and the concepts that we have put in place,” said Armstrong. “Our junior varsity squad went undefeated last year and I’m looking forward to the addition of the younger players with the leadership of our seniors.”
Plenty of experience players return this season for the Eagles, who will look to claim a playoff berth for the first time in six seasons. Back in the fold for Marsh Valley is senior fullback Caden May, who will be looked upon as a primary back this season, along with senior tailback Cody Goodworth. Junior Payton Campbell will also see time at the position. Junior Parker Armstrong will be the lead tight end, while senior Isaac Bowmen will be a main target at wide receiver.
On the offensive line, a number of talented players with experience are back including seniors Justin Ketner and Lance Montross along with juniors Tanner Branson, Marshall Gunnell, and Conn O’Doherty.
“Our offensive line is the strength of our team and our season will rise or fall based upon their ability to win the battle in the trenches,” said Armstrong, who added that Branson had an excellent offseason.
“Tanner has looked really strong during the summer and in camp. We look for him to have a strong year for us on both sides of the line.”
While the offensive line may be the strength of the team, Armstrong said that the aerial attack is a point of emphasis heading into the year.
“Last year we struggled in our passing game and we hope to improve in that area,” he said. “We also lost several games due to unforced fumbles. Ball control has also been a major focus in the offseason.”
Defensively, a good amount of experience returns to the Eagles. On the line, the trio of Montross, Branson, and O’Doherty will look to lock down opposing offenses with Bowman, Ketner, May, Campbell, Gunnell, and Parker Armstrong behind them in the rotating door of the linebacking corps. Goodworth will be the leader of the secondary.
“We’ve seen improvement as a team in our defensive performance as more players come to understand the current defensive concepts,” said Armstrong. “They are seeing the game from the correct positions and spacing which allow them to be successful.”
The coach added to increase their defensive output this year, the team needs to increase the turnover margin.
“We need to improve on takeaways, both forced fumbles and interceptions,” he said. “We also need to limit yards after contact, be aggressive, and have 11 guys flowing to the ball on every play.”
Armstrong went on to say that his team also needs to trust the system and trust their abilities.
“If the kids will believe in themselves and prepare each week, the rest will take care of itself,” he said.
The season gets underway for the Eagles on Aug. 25 when they host the 2A Malad Dragons, their rivals to the south. On Sept. 1, Marsh Valley hits the road for a game at Filer. The Eagles then play two straight games at home beginning on Sept. 8 when they host 2A West Side and Sept. 15 against Sugar-Salem. Marsh Valley then spends the next two weeks on the road when they play in Montpelier against 2A Bear Lake on Sept. 22, followed by a date with South Fremont in St. Anthony on Sept. 29.
Then, the conference schedule gets underway in October. With only three teams in the South East Idaho Conference, one misstep could mean the difference between a playoff berth and putting the gear away early. The Eagles open league play against defending conference champion Snake River on Oct. 6 in Arimo. Following a bye week on Oct. 13, the team will play American Falls on the road on Oct. 20.
Armstrong says that the conference is a lot stronger than it has been in recent seasons.
“The conference will be tougher than ever this year with three teams which appear to be more evenly matched thank in years past,” he said. “Snake River will always be the front runner and they have a larger pool of athletes to work with as season ending injuries take their toll. American Falls will also be tougher and more disciplined than in years past and this year is shaping up to be a good year for them as well.”
Will Marsh Valley shake off the weakness of their past and return to the playoffs? If they can stay injury free heading into the conference schedule and hang on to the football, the Eagles could certainly make some noise and potentially snag a tournament berth.