Football preview: Young Mariners face tough schedule
Silver Bay football is always a challenge in numbers.
The team typically has less than 25 players — a small group even for schools playing nine-man football. This season, coach Ward Kaiser expects the Mariner squad to top out at 23, including nine sophomores and just two senior starters.
Those seniors, Weston Monson and Peyton Westerlund, will need to provide a lot of leadership to a young squad facing a tough schedule with several bigger schools, including Ely, South Ridge and North Woods — a team that will move up to 11-man football in 2019.
"We're still young, but there's also still talent out there," Kaiser said. "In nine-man, you are always one injury away from the dynamic changing quite a bit."
The Mariners found that out the hard way in 2017, when senior running back Giovanni Marolt suffered a season-ending knee injury early in the third game.
Moving into the starting quarterback role this season are junior Riley Tiboni and Mason Ollman, who set a school record for single-game rushing against Northeast Range and will get the lion's share of the carries this season. Unfortunately for Ollman and the Mariners, Northeast Range's football program folded, leaving them with just seven games.
Silver Bay will still be a run-heavy team, but as Tiboni settles into his new role, Kaiser hopes to use the play-action pass to hit Monson, the Mariners' tallest player, over the middle and surprise some defenses.
Kaiser knows with the schools on his schedule and a young, small roster, Silver Bay has an uphill battle, but the team has some goals and there will be opportunities out there for those sophomores looking for more playing time.
"Our goal is to stay competitive and play those games well that we know are going to be against tough teams that may have more experience," Kaiser said. "For these younger guys, it's going to be a great opportunity for them to improve."
Silver Bay's season kicks off Aug. 30 at 7 p.m. at Bigfork.