Written by Wayne Dzubak
2020 will be an experience in youth for the Meridian Warriors, who posted a 3-6 record in 2019.
Graduation hit head coach John Zamberlin’s team especially hard on offense. Gone are quarterback Braden Honn and running back Chase Black plus four offensive linemen, Tyler Barron, John Hazzlet, Gavin Hawk and Trey Hessing.
“Several young players are going to be called on to make major contributions,” said the second-year head coach.
Among them is Malachi Martinez who will take over the quarterback spot and be called on to be a team leader.
As with most offenses, Meridian strives to be balanced, but Zamberlin said “A stable of young skilled players should allow us to spread the ball around more this season.” The big question mark remains the offensive line whereas mentioned four key players graduated and their replacements according to Zamberlin, “will be a huge factor in the success of our offense.”
The Warriors will be young on defense as well but Zamberlin said he expects this year’s squad to be more athletic than last’s. Carver Allen returns at linebacker after earning honorable mention All-SIC last year. He’ll be joined by Zach Webb and Drayson Fischer and all three will be called on to be team leaders. One bright spot on defense is the secondary where the entire unit has improved during the summer.
Zamberlin was able to retain his entire coaching staff from last year, his first as Warrior head coach and that coaching consistency will be a huge advantage for a young roster.
Meridian’s youth will get an early test as they open the season at Mountain View, who along with Rocky Mountain and Eagle, are once again considered the big three.
Meridian’s three wins in 2019 came against Skyview, Centennial and Boise. The Warriors lost 19-18 to Capital and put up battles against Borah, Rocky Mountain and Mountain View but just weren’t able to claim victory, even holding a powerful Rocky offense to just 24 points.
That of course was last year and 2020 is all about the investment in youth. That makes this year’s Meridian team difficult to analyze. A bevy of skilled players, a new quarterback and more athleticism on defense all bodes well to improve on last year’s 3-6 mark.
Meridian has three state football championship banners but none since 2007 (1988, 2005), but if the Warriors can get some team leadership and if the young players continue their growth as the coaching staff expects, the Warriors might just sneak into the playoffs.
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