Tigers caged by heat

MARSHALL – Graduation hit the Marshall football team hard. The Tigers entered fall camp looking to fill 20 positions on offense and defense, including all of their skill positions. The last thing they needed was to be forced off the field. But with temperatures and heat indices soaring, Minnesota State High School League regulations severely limit the activities of teams when the mercury creeps to triple digits.

Looking to get the most out of their limited time, the Tigers moved things indoors Wednesday; conducting walk-throughs in the north gym at Marshall High School.

“We’ve been scrambling because of the heat, as most schools are. Coaches like routine and we haven’t been able to get a routine,” Marshall head coach Terry Bahlmann said. “We’ve gone in the morning and the most we’ve been able to go outside this week is an hour. We needed to get more reps in, so we share the gym with the volleyball girls and they’ve helped us out. It gives us a chance to go through some of our walk-throughs. Heat, you can’t control. So, we just move on and try to get better with the chances we have.”

Just moving on is what the Tigers will have to do on the field as well after graduating more than two dozen seniors that posted a 27-4 record in their three years of varsity time.

Marshall has just 10 seniors in 2013, but one of them could end his senior season with the most games played in school history.

Tyus DeBoer will be starting on the offensive line for the Tigers for the fourth straight year when Marshall takes the field Friday against Robbinsdale Cooper in the season opener for both teams.

DeBoer has always been the young man on the o-line for the Tigers, which have paved the way in the past for the electric Beau Bofferding in 2010 and the smash-and-dash combo of Colton Citrowske and Rhett Struve in 2011. Now the oldest on the line, DeBoer is embracing the opportunity to help get his new line mates (Marshall graduated its other four starting offensive linemen from 2012) up to speed.

“It’s kind of a leadership role,” DeBoer said. “I’ve got to teach all the new guys the steps and make sure they’re up to speed, playing at the highest level we possibly can.”

A small injury during summer camp at the University of South Dakota provided DeBoer with an opportunity to demonstrate his teaching skills well before fall camp opened.

“At USD camp, he got dinged up a little bit and wasn’t able to play any. That’s where I thought his leadership really came through as one of those guys to help the young guys,” Bahlmann said. “He stepped in the huddle and helped them with assignments and different techniques and what works.

“We’ve developed a good tradition here of our lineman being successful and helping the young guys out. Tyus is going to have a chance to play in college and he’s sharing the knowledge that he’s gained over the years.”

Bahlmann also said that DeBoer, with his 6-foot-5, 275-pound frame, will be vital to the Tigers plans on both sides of the ball.

“Tyus has done a great job for us. He’s a four-year starter and not many guys can say that. We expect him to lead on the offensive and defensive sides,” Bahlmann said. “He’s put a lot of time into really trimming up a little bit. It’s made him quicker, I believe, off the ball and he’s been able to keep his strength. We’re expecting big things from him and he’s going to have to make big plays for us on both sides.”

DeBoer said that he spent the time between seasons trying to slim down and become more explosive off the ball. The extra step will go a long way in helping to disrupt opposing offenses and provide some more room to work for his own, but in Marshall’s first game DeBoer’s physicality could be his best attribute.

The Tigers kickoff against Robbinsdale Cooper at 7 p.m. Friday in New Hope. In 2012, the Hawks averaged 38.1 points per game and finished 8-3 overall. Utilizing their speed, the Hawks like to spread teams out and win on the edges.

Marshall, meanwhile, has built a reputation of winning on the interior under Bahlmann and DeBoer says keeping with their identity should help the Tigers get off to their ideal start to the 2013 season.

“Come out and hit hard. Fast guys don’t like to get hit,” DeBoer said of the Tigers’ keys for Friday. “We’ve got to hit hard, play hard.”

Bahlmann said it falls to DeBoer to set the tone for the Tigers early, not just against Cooper, but all season long.

“We need him to make plays and we need him to get doubled every time,” Bahlmann said. “He’s long and his size is an advantage for him, along with his toughness. He plays a little ornery and likes to mix it up.”

DeBoer also has the ability to alter the complexion of a game in one play. At Jackson County Central last season, DeBoer intercepted a pass and returned it 10 yards for a score. The touchdown put the Tigers up 7-6 and they went on to win 42-20.