Destin Middle School Marlins are settling in and making progress for upcoming season

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

With the first game just a little more than two weeks away, Destin Middle School football coach Mark Hinterthan said the team is “starting to make progress.” 

“We’re a little bit behind,” he said after practice earlier this week. “It’s been a strange summer because of a lot of things.”

Commitment was a big factor. 

Eighth-grader Tracen Trahan makes a catch and moves up field during a Destin Marlins practice earlier this week. Trahan  is back at receiver this year.

“We haven’t had the same five linemen out here for any two practices,” he said. “Getting kids to commit and be here every day is the biggest challenge, but they are starting to settle in with school starting next week. So we are starting to make a little progress.”

The Marlins have 32 players on the team, including about a dozen sixth-graders. 

“We’re very young,” he said. 

Destin Middle School football coach Mark Hinterthan huddles up the team during a practice earlier this week.

Of those 32 players, only one is returning to the same position he played last year: Tracen Trahan will be back at receiver. 

Nevertheless, Hinterthan is thinking positive about the road ahead for Destin. 

“We’re getting better every day,” he said. 

Jordan Figueroa, an eighth-grader, will be at quarterback. 

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“We’ve got two new running backs with him … but Jordan’s got some speed,” Hinterthan said.

The two running backs are Franco Corban and Austin Bouck.

“So, we’re going to try to use some of the speed we’ve got and our wideouts on the outside,” he said. 

Hinterthan said the Marlins' offense should do well, but the story is, “Can we play defense well enough to stop people?” 

The Marlins will get their first test Thursday, Aug. 19, at 6:30 p.m. when they host the Ruckel Rams from across the bay. 

Jordan Figueroa, an eighth-grader, will be playing quarterback for the Destin Marlins this season.

Hinterthan also is looking to his eighth-graders to lead and carry the load. 

In addition to Figueroa, other eighth-graders are Trahan, Gabe Escalera and Landon Ullrich. 

“But every player will see the field,” Hinterthan said, noting they will use some of the younger players on special teams. 

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The young players on special teams last year “executed well for us,” he said. 

“I think these guys will do even better,” he added, noting they are already setting walls. 

Destin Marlins assistant coach Martin Starling lines up the players during a recent practice.

“I’m excited about all our young kids," Hinterthan said. "If they will stay together in the future, they will be a pretty good group. They are here every day and they do what you tell them to do. They are really good kids and they are learning.”

As for the eighth-graders, Hinterthan said, “They have to show leadership and make some plays somewhere.” 

Gabe Escalera carries the ball while fellow eighth-grader Jordan Figueroa clears a path during a recent practice.

“I think we can X and O with anybody — it’s just can we tackle the bigger kids from the bigger schools,” he said, noting most schools in the county have that one big running back. 

And the question is, “Can you tackle him in the open field?” Hinterthan said. “We’re just going to have to play team football.”