Common sense dictates that hiring a new head coach barely three weeks before the first game puts a football team at a distinct disadvantage.
That's exactly what the Mariner Tritons are facing with coach Chris Siner being on the job for just two weeks. Siner admits being at a disadvantage, but thinks he can turn it into an advantage.
"Coming in late can be a bit of both," Siner said. "It can be an advantage because we can just get right into it without thinking much about it, which could help us."
Siner is still learning all the names of his players, but is leaning heavily on the assistant coaches already established in the system.
"I'm defensive coordinator this year, so I'm getting to know the guys on defense," said Siner, "and I know who will be carrying the ball for us on offense. We're staying with the triple option offense they run. I'm a big fan of the triple option, and I have a lot of faith in (offensive coordinator) Steve Larsen."
Calling the signals in the triple option is junior quarterback J.T. Etnoyer, who stepped into the job last season when the Tritons started 0-6. He will have junior fullback Donovan McAmis as one of his backfield options along with junior wingback Tyler Pigott. Another option are junior wide receivers Stephen King and Braxton Hobbs.
Junior linemen Charles Bell and Dominic Sansone, senior Justin Emmons (DE) and senior Kenny Moore (LB) are expected to be the glue that holds the defense together.
Nineteen of the 22 players that started last season graduated, and 17 juniors likely will be in the starting lineup this season. That speaks volumes about the Tritons heading into the season-opening grudge match with city rival Cape Coral on Sept. 3.
"We're kind of a young team, not a lot of seniors," said Siner. "We have a strong junior class, but being young can cause us to have those little mistakes that can cost you a ball game here and there. That's what we have to work on and get better at."
The biggest change will be on the defensive side of the ball which Siner is converting to an attacking 4-3 defense he learned from coach John Weber at Immokalee. With the exception of the 2003-04 season during which he served as an assistant at Mariner, Siner has been an assistant at Immokalee since 1999. He was offensive coordinator for the Indians most recently before being hired by Mariner on Aug. 16.
"The 4-3 defense is a work in progress," said Siner. "We've gotten a few things installed in practice, but we have a lot of work to do on that. I want to have the whole package in by the Cypress Lake (preseason) game."
The schedule presents its own obstacle standing between the Tritons and their goal of improving upon last year's 1-9 season.
"There are no breaks in the schedule," said Siner. "South Fort Myers is going to be tough, loaded with Dallas Crawford and Sammy Watkins, but I think there are some winnable games. I believe we can compete in our district. Fort Myers will be tougher this year, which was their only win last year. North should be better and Riverdale and Verot have been solid. Then being in Cape Coral you have the Cape, Baker and Island Coast to deal with. Those are all important games, too. And Charlotte probably will be one of the top five teams again."
Siner hopes his special teams can help keep the Tritons in games, particularly with senior kicker/soccer player John Teeter.
"In high school ball you try to find that kicker who can kickoff and get the ball into the end zone. That's a big plus," said Siner.
Mariner High School Tritons
Sept. 3 - at Cape Coral
Sept. 20 - vs. North Port
Sept. 16 - at Charlotte
Sept. 24 - at Riverdale-x
Oct. 1 - vs. Island Coast
Oct. 8 - vs. Bishop Verot-x
Oct. 22 - at North Fort Myers-x
Oct. 29 - vs. Fort Myers-x
Nov. 5 - at South Fort Myers-x
Nov. 12 - vs. Ida Baker
Head Coach: Chris Siner ('10), first year
Assistants: Steve Larsen (off. coord.), Andrew London (LB/WR), Roy Stabler (DB/WR), Matt Frommelt (QB/secondary), Bryan Wolf (WR/DB/JV), Tom Woodley (LB/RB), Jeremy Dearinger (linemen/freshmen), Martin Cardenas (DB/WR/freshmen), Jack Maglione (JV linemen).
Team Colors: black & silver
Stadium: Tony McKenna Field, 701 Chiquita Blvd.
Playoff History: 1991 - Mariner 21, Jesuit 6; Haines City 19, Mariner 16 (Regionals); 1997 - Miramar 40, Mariner 30; 1998 - Plantation 49, Mariner 19. 2003 - Bradenton Bayshore 20, Mariner 0. 2004 - Mariner 30, Charlotte 27 (2OT); Seffner Armwood 50, Mariner 7.
Home: 0-5 Away: 1-4 District: 1-4
Cape Coral 35, Mariner 14
North Port 28, Mariner 21
Charlotte 49, Mariner 7
Riverdale 35, Mariner 2
Island Coast 17, Mariner 14
Bishop Verot 27, Mariner 21
North Fort Myers 42, Mariner 28
Mariner 7, Fort Myers 0
South Fort Myers 41, Mariner 20
Ida Baker 28, Mariner 21