Max Marsh has noticed the traffic.
Eaglecrest’s senior quarterback is used to little congestion and getting wherever he wants to quickly after growing up in the Western Slope.
More cars is just one of the things Marsh has had to adapt to after coming to town when his father, Shawn Marsh, left his longtime post at Central of Grand Junction and accepted the head coaching job.
“I’ve never experienced traffic like this; every day I feel like I’m in traffic or I have to plan ahead to go anywhere,” Marsh said, shaking his head.
From a football standpoint, the adjustment has been a lot smoother.
As a package duo, the Marshes fill two of the biggest voids the Eaglecrest program had in the wake of 2018 season in which it went 10-2 and lost a four-point heartbreaker to rival Grandview in the quarterfinals of last season’s Class 5A state playoffs.
While they were helping the Warriors to a berth in last season’s 4A postseason, the Marshes didn’t know much of the chaos at Eaglecrest, when the football program dealt with the shocking resignation of new hire Dustin Delaney after just one game of the season.
The school chose not to retain interim head coach Garrett Looney — who moved on to take the head job at Mountain Vista when he wasn’t hired permanently — and also needed a quarterback after supremely athletic signal caller Dylan James graduated.
Shawn Marsh arrived with a completely new, wide-open offensive system — more like the one former coach Mike Schmitt ran as recently as the 2017 season — receptiveness to the change.
“The kids are super coachable; their football knowledge is great,” he said during Eaglecrest’s trip to the Denver Broncos annual high school media day event.
“You can tell they’ve been coached well from little league all the way up,” he added. “They have good base knowledge and they’ve picked up a completely different offense and completely different defense in a short time, which is exciting. And they are all willing to learn.”
Shawn Marsh brought along one of his offensive coaches to help with the transition from an offense that ran the ball close to 90 percent of the time last season (554 rushes against 85 pass attempts) to a wide-open, spread attack, but the biggest helper is having a quarterback that understands the system.
Max Marsh steps in for James — who accounted for nearly 3,000 yards of total offense, including 2,000-plus rushing — coming off a season in which he threw for 2,296 yards and 20 touchdowns (against 11 interceptions) and gained 323 yards and scored four times on the ground.
Marsh had a security blanket at Central in tight end Kole Taylor, a recent Louisiana State pledge, but he has a talented group with at least one Division I talent at Eaglecrest in junior wide receiver Ty Robinson.
Robinson could play collegiately in either football or basketball and offers highlight-reel athleticism — which he displayed in one sequence last season when he hauled in a 50-yard touchdown pass with one hand in crunch time against Grandview.
He did what was asked of him last season for the good of the team, but he’s definitely looking forward to many more opportunities. Robinson still managed 401 yards receiving and four scores despite the ground-heavy emphasis.
“It’s going to be pretty different than last year, so I’m excited,” Robinson said. “The new QB is pretty good. The coaches are expecting a lot from me, so I need to do my job.”
Max Marsh has another safety blanket in front of him in senior offensive lineman Reece Atteberry, who gave his verbal commitment to the University of Michigan over the summer.
The Raptors graduated nearly their entire offensive line — including Stanford signee Barrett “Bear” Miller and University of Colorado recruit Jake Wiley — but they have back a key figure in Atteberry.
After a lengthy recruiting process during which many of the country’s tradition powerhouses brought him in for a visit or at least checked in, Atteberry picked Michigan. In his fourth season as a starter, the 6-foot-5, 280-pounder will try to adjust to yet another new offense and lead a group with a lot of new faces in the trenches.
Defensively, Eaglecrest has back a top talent in junior Seyi Oladipo, who intercepted a trio of passes last season and is the team’s leading returning tackler.
The Raptors lost a powerful punch at linebacker with the graduation of Elijah Anderson-Taylor and Tyler Dufour, so Shawn Marsh is hoping he has enough quickness on that side of the football to make up for the losses and a relative lack of size up front.
Max Marsh has to adjust to playing 5A football in what most consider the toughest top-to-bottom conference in state with other marquee programs such as Cherry Creek and Grandview, Cherokee Trail (not long removed from two straight trips to the 5A semifinals) and a wild card in Overland, under the new direction of energetic DaVaughn Thornton Sr.
Central of Grand Junction had rivals such as Palisade and Fruita Monument that they always battled with, but Marsh could tell even from a spirited summer scrimmage with Grandview how much intensity exists in all of the rivalries Eaglecrest has developed with the schools nearby.
“I could feel the tenseness and how everyone wants to win so bad,” he said. “I’m really excited and I can’t wait to see how the Friday Night Lights are here.”
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports
2019 EAGLECREST FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
Home games played at Legacy Stadium unless otherwise noted: Friday, Aug. 30 — vs. Highlands Ranch at Shea Stadium, 4 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 6 — FOUNTAIN-FORT CARSON, 7 p.m.; Thursday, Sept. 12 — vs. Rocky Mountain at French Field, 6 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 20 — LEGACY, 7 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 27 — vs. Arvada West at North Area Athletic Complex, 7 p.m.; Thursday, Oct. 3 — GRANDVIEW, 7 p.m.; Thursday, Oct. 10 — OVERLAND, 7 p.m.; Friday, Oct. 18 — at Cherry Creek, 7 p.m.; Thursday, Oct. 24 — vs. Arapahoe at Littleton Public Schools Stadium, 7 p.m.; Friday, Nov. 1 — CHEROKEE TRAIL, 7 p.m.