Marana High School slot receiver Solomon Stokes listens to offensive coordinator Marty Honea during a whiteboard practice in the Tigers locker room last week.

Randy Metcalf/The Explorer

After last season’s dismal 1-9 performance, the Marana Tigers have plenty of room for improvement as they prepare to hit the gridiron this year.

“We need to work harder and be a better focused team,” said Coach Anthony Coronado. “But, most importantly, we have to work together. Our kids have responded. We have had a very good summer. Our attitude and effort has been really good.”

The Tigers got right to work last week, going through six-hour practice sessions. The players went back and forth between the weight-room, classroom and the field, where Coronado said athletes were trying become acclimated to the 100-degree temperatures.

During classroom work on Aug. 2, Offensive Coordinator Marty Honea told the players it would be important to stay hydrated in the coming weeks.

Honea also worked with players on picking up the blitz, which will be key to surviving the tough division in which the Tigers will be playing.

The Tigers’ coaches are already worried about some questions remaining on the offensive line.

“We are going to have to ask some young men to change positions to help and strengthen the team in some spots,” said Coronado.

While it’s still early in the season, Coronado said the Tigers are in good shape, with a lot of talented players returning to fill some key positions.

Three-year starter Michael Susa is one of those key veteran players. The offensive and defensive lineman has worked throughout the summer to prepare for the gridiron.

Joining Susa are fellow seniors Derek Wengert, Solomon Stokes, Tanner Morse, Addin Soto and Cameron Vissers.

Wengert will go from playing free safety to help stop the run on the line.

Stokes is said to have a good attitude as he learns a new position at linebacker.

Tanner, also a three-year starter, has been a solid member of the defense for the last two seasons and has lead the team in interceptions.

Coronado described Vissers as the most consistent player on last season’s defense.

Besides a strong group of seniors, Coronado said the Tigers’ strengths in the new season also center around playing as a team.

“More than anything, it is our attitudes that are our strength right now,” he said. “The kids are working together, and they recognize that this season is about them staying together.”

Coronado is also excited about two new promising players being added to the roster.

Gene Knepper, a senior, is preparing for his first season in football.

“He is a good-size player with good strength,” said Coronado. “This is his senior year, and he has not played before, but he is an athlete that will really be an impact for us.”

Another new addition is senior Zach Henderson. Henderson, a baseball player, decided to play football in his final year in high school. He will be a wide receiver on offense, and a defensive back on defense.

“He changes the dynamic of the offense when he is in,” said Coronado. “He has great hands.”

The Tigers will open the season on Aug. 26, hosting inner-district opponent Mountain View High School.

Just like the Tigers, the Mountain View Lions are looking to improve on last season’s losing record.

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