Photo By Debra Sorenson - #9 Hunter Roche
Written by Chris Deremer
With a tough ending to the 2019 season still on many minds, the Marsh Valley Eagles hope to rewrite past mistakes heading into the 2020 campaign.
After falling short in the state play-in game, the Eagles look to make it further in the playoffs returning many faces from a year ago.
Doug Armstrong enters his fifth season with the Eagles, solidifying a culture within the program and finding continued success within Marsh Valley.
Despite another senior class departing, the Eagles return a ton of talent heading into 2020.
Coach Armstrong says he looks forward to what this new team can bring with plenty of experienced Eagles on the roster.
“Every year when seniors graduate it is a loss of experience and playing time that is hard to replace,” Coach Armstrong said. “We will miss all of our former players, but we understand that it opens new opportunities for those who have put in the work to succeed.”
The Eagles bring back two first-team all-conference players and five second-team all-conference players. Marsh Valley seems to boast a talented roster able to make a giant leap in the win column this season. The Eagle offense filled with All South East Idaho Conference members is led by junior quarterback Hunter Roche.
Despite the team usually being a run-heavy offense, the talented skill players at other positions can provide more balance to the Eagle offense. Coach Armstrong said even though the roster is filled with playmakers, success begins upfront.
“Our effectiveness on offense will be a direct result of how our front five players perform,” Armstrong said. “We have great skill players and we have depth at the skill positions, but in 2019 our offensive line was young. If they perform as we expect, great things can happen.”
Two names to keep an eye on the Eagle offense will be senior wide receiver Dane Wissenbach and junior running back Michael Belnap. Wissenbach returns with first-team all-conference honors last season and looks to provide playmaking abilities downfield again this season.
After making second-team all-conference, Belnap looks to receive first-team honors by the end of 2020. With the Eagles liking to play a physical offense on the ground, Belnap is prepped to have a sensational junior year.
For the Eagle defense, Armstrong hopes another year of experience has helped his players grow into the tenacious hitters they can be capable of.
“We need to make sure that our defensive players understand their assignments and then flow to the ball,” Armstrong said.
The standouts of the defense will be the linebacker core with two all-conference members returning for the Eagles. Michael Belnap aims to be a leader for the defense as well after coming off a first-team all-conference season at linebacker.
With the 2020 season right around the corner, the Marsh Valley Eagles look primed to make a huge jump this year on their quest for their first state title since 2004.