Malden football team looks to build on recent success
The pieces appear in place for another big year for the Malden Green Wave football program.
Malden returns a slew of starters off of last season’s squad that finished 11-1 and advanced to the Class 2 state quarterfinals before falling to Trinity Catholic.
“This is a senior-heavy bunch,” Malden first-year head coach Kevin Collier said. “We’ve got seven returning starters on offense and seven or eight on defense.”
Malden is once again blessed with depth. The 48-man Malden football roster is composed of 16 seniors, 11 juniors, 10 sophomores and 11 freshmen.
“We’ve had big numbers for quite some time now,” Collier said. “That hasn’t been a problem for us and we are pleased with the numbers. What we are even more pleased with is the attendance we had this summer. We are developing a tradition of our kids being here for all the contact day and weight lifting days. Many of our 48 kids were here most of the summer, which is pretty impressive.”
The Green Wave have the luxury of returning five-foot-ten senior quarterback Mason Brown to run its offense. The right-hander completed eight touchdown passes and threw seven interceptions last season. Brown ran for 1,099 yards and recorded 15 rushing touchdowns his junior season.
“He’s done a good job,” Collier said. “He stepped into a very difficult situation last year trying to follow an all-state quarterback in Chapen Riley. He is a natural leader and did a really good job for us last year. We are running a different system this year and he’s really picked it up. He’s a very diligent kid that works extremely hard and he’s throwing the ball better this year.”
The Green Wave, which ran for more than 3,300 yards and calculated 59 rushing touchdowns last season, also return its primary running back. Five-foot-ten 198-pound senior Tray Stevenson rushed for 1,228 yards last season. Collier expects the Green Wave to have a strong supporting cast to accompany Stevenson in its ground attack.
“We’ve got some good running backs,” Collier said. “Tray Stevenson started for us last year. Him and Malcom McBride have done a good job running the football. We’ve also got a sophomore in Brandon Heck that will get some touches. We’ve also got some kids that play slot for us that will run the ball like Broddric Annesser, Tye Miller and Onterio Reed.”
Malden’s rushing crew will have the luxury of maneuvering behind a veteran offensive line. The Green Wave return all five starters on its offensive line - six-foot-one 227-pound senior Jackson Wilson, six-foot-three 256-pound senior Keaton Powell, six-foot-one 312-pound senior Donterrion Triplett, five-foot-eleven 230-pound senior Dylan Dearman and five-foot-nine 202-pound senior Ethan Bander.
“We are returning our front five on the offensive side,” Collier said. “They’ve started together since they were sophomores. We have really high hopes for them. They’ve worked really hard in past summers and this summer. We feel like we’ve got good mobility with our linemen. They are strong and aggressive. We think they can do a pretty good job.”
Collier said he expects few changes to a defense that allowed just 16.5 points per game last season.
“We are going to stay with the same defensive philosophy,” Collier said. “We are returning all of our linemen but one. We’ve had to replace some defensive backs but do have Broddric Annesser as a returning starter in the backfield. He was all-conference last season. Hunter Perkins and Drew Ryan are also playing at safety right now and doing a good job.”
Collier said Triplett will once again handle the kicking responsibilities.
“Dee Triplett is the punter/kicker,” Collier said. “He was an all-conference kicker last year. He moves the ball pretty well. We won’t make many changes at special teams, but we will throw a few wrinkles in. It’s important to be solid at special teams because it can get your beat.”
Malden will compete in a football jamboree with Portageville, Charleston and Doniphan Friday at 6:30 p.m. at Portageville.
Malden opens its season Aug. 18 at New Madrid County Central.
“We got a glimpse of them but didn’t play them at the SEMO Contact Camp,” Collier said. “They’ve got a new defensive coordinator. We’ve heard they have a lot of speed. We anticipate they will be on an upswing this year.”
The Green Wave will compete in Class 2, District 1 with Caruthersville, Charleston, East Prairie, Grandview, Jefferson of Festus, Kelly and St. Pius X of Festus.
“We’ve got a lot of speed and size in our district,” Collier said. “It’s going to be a pretty tough district. We will have to play extremely well to get past those teams.”
Malden has won its district the last three seasons.
“We are following a period of great success,” Collier said. “Coach Wyatt did a great job here and we want to keep the success going or increase it. We’ve been working our kids hard at a very high pace. We want to keep going with what Malden tradition is. Right now we haven’t won a game. We’ve got to focus on New Madrid first and that’s all we are focussing on at the moment.”