“Before they even hired me, I knew every bad habit each one of those kids had. I knew their attitude, I knew their work ethic, I knew which kid I had to push what way, and my coaches that were here already, they pretty much did, too,” he said. “We saved a lot of time and a lot of work because we didn’t have to build respect between each other. That respect was already there, and we were able to just get to work with one goal.”
And Marple also knows exactly what his new job entails, as well as both the positives and the negatives of coaching at Casey.
“I played here, I was an assistant here, I’ve been a part of it when we’ve won and been a part when we’ve lost,” he said. “I knew the challenges coming into this job.”
Casey County at a glance
Coach: Sam Marple (first year)
Class and district:¿AAA-4
2010 results:¿8-4, lost to Breathitt County in second round of Class AAA playoffs
Aug. 19 x-Simon Kenton 8:00
Aug. 26 TAYLOR COUNTY 7:30
Sept. 2 at Green County 8:00
Sept. 9 at Clinton County 8:00
Sept. 17 PRESTONSBURG TBA
Sept. 23 McCREARY CENTRAL 8:00
Sept. 30 at Bell County 8:00
Oct. 7 WAYNE COUNTY 7:30
Oct. 14 at Metcalfe County 8:00
Oct. 21 at Corbin 8:00
x-at Lincoln County
Top Returning Players
Alex Bolin, Jr., RB-S
James Burton, Sr., RB-TE-DE
Travis Burton, Sr., OT-LB
Dillon Coffey, Sr., RB-LB
Cody Denson, Sr., TE-DE
Will Hatter, Sr., QB-S
Tyler Hayes, Sr., WR-CB
Jeremy Johnson, Jr., OL-DL
Tyler Padgett, Jr., OT-DT
Tyler Stephens, Sr., C-DT
Has changed: There will be new schemes, including an option offense and a 50-front defense, but the biggest change is at the top, where Marple takes over the team he once played for and always wanted to coach.
“Me being from here, this has always been the job that I wanted. ... Then all of a sudden you get here and you get a week or two into it and you realize now it's time to put up or shut up,”¿he said.
Needs to change: Was Casey’s success last season just one good year or the start of a sea change?¿The answer could be found this fall in how the Rebels respond to adversity while playing a schedule that will make going 8-4 again very difficult.
“We have a small group of young men that knows the type of sacrifice you've got to make to win football games, so I think they're looking forward to that challenge,”¿he said.
Emerging player: James Burton had a big year last year, and Marple said this could be a much bigger season for the big man at his two offensive positions and on the defensive front.
“He’s been a big part of this already, but if he stays healthy, he’s going to really have a breakout year,”¿Marple said. “He’s the type of kid that can elevate himself.”
Underrated player: Stephens’ influence at the center of the offensive and defensive lines is easy to spot on film but often goes unnoticed by fans who follow the ball.
“He’s probably our strongest kid pound for pound. You see a lot of kids that are that strong but probably not that good a football player, but he’s equally as good a football player. He’s going to anchor us up front both ways,” Marple said.
Outlook: Casey will continue to do much of what made it successful last season, and the experience on the roster should allow it to continue to do it well. However, it’s possible that the Rebels could improve but still win fewer games than in 2010. They aren’t conceding anything, but playing some of the powerhouses on their schedule is bound to take a toll.
Yet this is now a veteran team that can be expected to win the games it should win and pull a surprise or two in the others, and earning a playoff berth will be expected rather than just hoped for.