The future is bright for the Maryville College Fighting Scots football program. With countless returning starters as well as a threshold of young talent, the Scots are primed and ready to make a run for their third conference championship in three years.
“If we take it game by game, snap by snap, and win every battle, we can replicate what we did last year,” said Dalton Stevens, senior offensive tackle. “Losing the first game in the playoffs to Hampden Sydney [last season] really left a bad taste in our mouths,” he added. The memory of defeat fueled an aggressive off-season that has prepared the 2014 Scots for a tough ten-game regular season schedule.
Stevens and team captain Rance Hightower have been named pre-season All-Americans and head an impressive offensive line that helped Maryville rush for over 350 yards against Berry College this past Saturday. The Scots’ 41-14 victory in their season-opener against Berry showed fans what to expect at Honaker field this season. On offense, running backs Trenton Shuler and Dejion Whitlock led the charge with a combined 223 rushing yards, and junior quarterback Evan Pittenger commanded the unit down the field, completing 13 of 19 passes for 94 yards and a touchdown.
To accompany the potent offense, the Scots defense is also a stout group. “We have a lot of people back and our run defense should be pretty good,” explained junior linebacker and team captain Kent Minor. “If we can get our pass defense correct, we should be a force to be reckoned with.”
Holding Berry to only one score in each half on Saturday proves the legitimacy of the Maryville defense and projects a tough road ahead for opposing offenses. Minor also agrees that the loss to Hampden Sydney last year to end an 8-3 overall season pushed the Scots to work hard during the winter and spring. “It affects us a bunch,” Minor said, regarding the playoff loss. “We still think about it almost every day, and hopefully we can get another shot at them.”
After being Co-Champions of the USA South Conference for two years in a row, Maryville was seeded fourth overall in the conference according to the 2014 pre-season polls. Crucial conference matchups to look for this season include a Sept. 27 game against Huntington College and the Scots’ homecoming game on Oct. 4th against LaGrange College. Speaking on the Huntington game, Minor said, “The last two years have been a fight but we haven’t quite been able to finish it.”
When asked about their outlook on this season, both Minor and Stevens focused on improvement. “The offense did a great job [last season] and they really carried us, so let’s hope that we [the defense] can help them out this year and achieve more than we did last year,” Minor said.
“All I’m really hoping for is just to do better than we did last year, that’s what every team wants to do,” Stevens said. “You have a good season like we did last year; you want to do that and then some more.”