Impact Player: It’s Marslender’s show to run
Published 5:21 pm Friday, August 11, 2017
Northside quarterback and safety Matthew Marslender is right where he likes to be. He watched over the defense last year, helping lead from the back of the secondary. Now he inherits the keys to the offense after years of learning the system.
Even during baseball season, Marslender enjoys his role as catcher because he gets to watch the entire field from behind the plate.
“They’re very similar. I like seeing the whole field. It’s just like in baseball when I’m catching,” he said. “So, it’s nice to make calls and make sure everybody is in the right spot. It helps me out as a quarterback, too, by playing safety on defense. I’ve always got something going through my mind, and I’m looking everywhere.”
Head coach Keith Boyd added, “He’s always been a leader. That’s what you need at your quarterback spot. He’s doing a great job for us.”
As he calls the shots on offense, Marslender will be tasked with following in the footsteps of Jackson Midgette and the prolific offense he quarterbacked. The Panthers only return one starter on that side of the ball. New faces and players taking on greater responsibilities means Marslender will have his hands full.
From a chemistry standpoint, though, the senior signal caller feels good about the players around him. It starts with center Zachary Griffin snapping him the ball.
“When other centers get in, little things like that can mess up the offense,” Marslender said. “Zach being in there, it just goes smoothly.”
The Panthers have been mixing in plenty of players to fill voids at running back. It can be hectic for Marslender to see so many people come in and out of the backfield. One of the players he’s enjoyed working with is Raydarius Freeman.
“I was a little nervous at first. He’s so big,” Marslender said of the 6-foot-3, 205-pound back. “He hasn’t really ran the ball. He’s really only played defense, but he’s worked hard in the weight room and got big. We’ve got a really good mesh.”
Marslender also mentioned Tyree Blount. Even though Blount is newer to the Northside program, he and Marslender played together in middle school.
When it comes to throwing the ball, Marslender is plenty comfortable. Walt Davis has joined the coaching staff, and is working hard with the Panther quarterbacks on their technique. It also helps that Marslender, standing at 5-foot-7, has a handful of quality tight ends to toss to.
“Coach Davis has been working hard with all the quarterbacks. I think all of us are getting better at throwing the ball,” he said. “… Tanner (Alligood) is a big target. I always like throwing to Tanner. Parker (Boyd), too. I guess I’m a little, short guy and I pick the tall guys. They’re easy targets.”
The defensive situation is entirely different. Marslender is one of five returning starters. He has the strong safety role locked down, and will have Alligood by his side at the free safety spot.