The Destin Marlins have more than doubled in numbers, but not necessarily in experience.
Last year, Destin Middle School started with 24 on the football team but suited up 16 for the jamboree. As of Monday morning, the Destin Marlins are 43 strong.
“We’ve had a great summer,” said Destin Coach Mark Hinterthan.
The players spent an hour in the weight room and an hour outside for each workout throughout the summer.
“The progress and turnout was good, chemistry was great and attitudes are good. So I’m really encouraged,” Hinterthan said.
Monday the players were out on the field working through offense, defense and special team drills.
“Right now, we’ve just got a good group of kids,” Hinterthan said. “We’ve got a little bit more speed on average this year, but we’re a little bit younger in understanding the game.”
The Marlins only have one starter back from last year, Carter Tobik, who played center.
“Other than that they are all pretty much new,” Hinterthan said.
However, he does have a few back from last year looking to swap positions or who played second string and are now looking to get a start on defense.
Dylan Matekovich, an eighth grader, is one of those looking to make a change. Matekovich, who was a corner last year, is working out for the quarterback slot.
The other player vying for the QB slot is seventh grader Harrison Orr.
“Orr has got a little bit of speed,” Hinterthan said, noting they will be using him at running back as well as quarterback. “We’re decent upfront on offense, just not a lot of depth right now.”
Nevertheless he said, “I think we’re going to be as good as we were last year … maybe a little bit better.”
One thing the Marlins have in their favor right now is speed.
“We’re going to have more speed, and special teams I’m really excited about,” he said. “I’ve a couple of guys I think can return it. Last year, we’d catch the pass and get caught before we got in the end zone. This year I don’t know if we’ll get caught or not.
“I’m excited to see if some of these guys can outrun them to the end zone," Hinterthan added. "That’s a big difference on special teams.”
Four players he put in that quick category are Tabious Thompson, Anthony Ordonez, Orr and Jack Tenholder.
However, “Tabious, the fastest guy out here, has never played football,” Hinterthan said.
The Marlins also have two first timers trying out for the kicking position.
Ordonez and Meline Molina, both soccer players, are vying for the kicking position.
As for defense, Hinterthan said they are running the same defense as last year with “multiple fronts.”
“Our thing right now is to teach as much as we can as quick as we can,” Hinterthan said.
The Marlins will participate in a jamboree on Aug. 16 at Freeport Middle School where they will play a half against Marianna and a half against Freeport.
Destin’s first regular season game is at 6:30 p.m., Aug. 23 in Niceville against Ruckel Middle School.