RACHEL — Of the 28 Class AA teams that did not qualify for the postseason last fall, North Marion scored the most points with 378. The next closest team was Berkeley Springs with 320. The Huskies, who finished 6-4 have the offensive firepower to be a top-tier squad in the Big 10 Conference with many of their key contributors returning in 2018.
The Huskies will rely heavily on senior Desmond Fluharty as the primary option in the backfield. As a junior, Fluharty racked up 893 yards from scrimmage with eight rushing touchdowns.
“Dez is our guy on offense,” North Marion head coach Daran Hays said. “He is a big play threat, so we can’t play him every snap. At the pace we are trying to play on offense we are trying to snap the ball 75-80 times a game. For him to turn around and play 50-60 snaps on defense and return punts, it is just asking way too much. So we have to get a little bit of depth at safety particularly.”
The quarterback position for the Huskies is in flux as senior and returning starter Dalton Malcomb recovers from knee surgery he underwent in March. Junior Gunner Murphy is North Marion’s top backup and took the majority of the snaps in Saturday’s scrimmages versus Philip Barbour and Elkins.
“I think Gunner would start for over half the teams in our league,” Hays said. “He is a really solid quarterback. He just happens to be in Dalton’s school. Dalton is the guy but he is probably not going to roll back and play one hundred snaps per game. The idea right now is that Gunner plays the third series of every game and then we play it by ear from there. He gives us a different dimension. He is a little taller, a little lankier. Dalton probably throws a little better from the pocket, Gunner probably throws a little better on the run.”
Hays is confident that the Huskies will be solid up front. He believes this year’s line could be one of the deeper units he has coached at NMHS.
“We can be pretty good up front, we can play a lot of dudes,” Hays said. “We probably played fourteen offensive lineman with our group No. 1, which is the battle of attrition we are always trying to win. We don’t have a 300-pound space eater guy and we are not as fast off the ball as we want to be. But we are a lot bigger than we have been in the past. Our guys that used to be 180 to 185 pounds are now 210 to 220.”
The Huskies will open the season on August 24th against Nicholas County at Husky Field. Half of North Marion’s 2018 opponents advanced to the playoffs last fall.