HARLINGEN — The Marine Military Academy football squad was off and running Thursday afternoon.
The Leathernecks are looking to build off a 6-4 season in 2017 and will kick off their season at home on Thursday against Santa Maria.
MMA is under the directions of third-year head coach Ric Medill, whose challenge remains the same: having athletes coming in and out of the program. Regardless of the constant turnover, there is plenty of optimism.
Since Medill’s arrival, the Leathernecks have gradually improved. In 2016 MMA went 2-6 and in 2017 the Leathernecks improved to 6-4.
“We are trying to get the feel for it right now. We have a few kids back from last year that have experience,” Medill said. “We have some holes to fill along the offensive line, but it is tough. We get kids in on the first day of school, so we’re trying to find ways to plug the kids in.”
Jacob Thompson is a three-year varsity member and was the starting quarterback last fall. This year Thompson has made the move to wide receiver.
“It was not a hard move at all. I love playing football and I’m ready for this season,” Thompson said. “I did not have a problem moving positions. Whatever helps this team, I’m all for it and if that means I play wide out then let’s do it.”
The new man under center will be Brandon Cespedes. The senior QB is a transfer from Frisco Heritage where he played QB for the Coyotes last fall.
Another offensive weapon is running back Moshe Debo, who is a two-way player that can also line up at cornerback.
“I’ve changed as a person since coming here to MMA,” Debo said. “As a person, academically and physically I have changed and it is great. Before I came here, I didn’t think about college and now that I’m here, I expect to go to college. It is a goal now. As for football, I’m ready to get the year going. This year came quick and it was a new system, so it took some time getting adjusted to, but I’m ready.”
Anchoring the defense will be outside linebacker Jack Kostelnik. The hardnosed linebacker is in his third year at MMA and is eager to pick up where he left off last year.
“It’s been going great so far,” he said. “The challenge is we lose guys each year and it is hard to tell who is coming back and who isn’t. We feel our defensive line is a strength, our line backing core is strong again and our secondary looks great, too. It’s refreshing to be back on the field. I had an injury last year that kept me out a bit, so it feels great to be back on the field with my defense.”