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Mark Morris football preview: Monarchs see a chance at postseason

With several key players back, team looks to improve on 4-5 record

By Joshua Hart, Columbian sports reporter
Published: September 3, 2019, 5:55pm

Mark Morris hasn’t had a winning season since 2013. The Monarchs, though, see an opening this season in a competitive 2A Greater St. Helens League.

While 17th-year coach Shawn Perkins’ squad graduates “warrior” quarterback Dawson Fritz, they boast a stable of intriguing returners ready to take the next step after a 4-5 season in 2018.

“Anytime you have a chance to play an extra game at the end of the year, that’s something special,” Perkins said. “We do feel there’s a little opening. It’s been really tough the past three years. There’s been some good teams out there.”

The program certainly feels on much more stable ground than it did in a winless 2016. Cole Busch will take over at quarterback. The senior has a cannon of an arm and has gotten time in pass-heavy situations the past couple years. His targets include 6-foot-5 Jack Shipley, who caught 23 passes for 350 yards and five touchdowns last year, and 6-3 junior Jamison Watson. The talented crew could lead Perkins to open up the wing-T offense.

High school sports fall tab 2019

This article is part of The Columbian's High School Fall Sports 2019 special section, published in print on Sept. 1. View it online.

“We might run a little more of a spread wing than the tradition wing-T with our personnel,” Perkins said. “We have pretty good size for our receivers out there. That’s a tough matchup for a lot of kids.”

In the backfield, Keoni Makaiwi is poised for a big year. He was an all-league linebacker last season. Makaiwi will be running behind big bodies up front in Andrew Hoyt, Michael McNeil and Olin Barnes. Marco Valdivia-Aldana returns after an all-league season at defensive line. The biggest thing will be replacing a strong leadership group that is now graduated.

“That’s been the exciting thing to see that some of these kids are starting to figure it out,” Perkins said. “They’re stepping into those roles and letting their voices be heard in a positive way.”

3 things to know

— Coach Shawn Perkins is 78-85 in 17 years as the Monarchs’ head coach.

— The Monarchs last winning season was a 10-win 2013 campaign, in which they made the state playoffs.

— Mark Morris plays its final four regular-season games at Longview Memorial Stadium.

Columbian sports reporter