Well aware of the challenges that lay ahead in the 2014 season, Max Marsh made sure he was prepared to clear any hurdle.
The seventh grader prepped for his season with the West Middle School Raiders by attending NFA camps in Boston and Philadelphia with other Blackshirt athletes and JC Boice, NFA’s Senior Level, C4 Certified Coach and Director of Operations. The summer tour wrapped up with a stop in Massillon, Ohio, for NFA’s showcase event – the Duel.
“That was just a great experience,” said Shawn Marsh, Max’s father and the Head Football Coach at Grand Junction Central High School in Colorado along with being on the NFA coaching staff.
“It was really fun,” he said. “I was competing and hanging out with all the Blackshirts, making new friends. It helped me a lot. Going to the camps and competing at the Duel, it helped me compete for a position on our team.”
Playing with a mix of seventh and older eighth graders for the West Raiders, Marsh split time at quarterback with the returning incumbent eighth grade starter and helped lead West to a perfect 9-0 record capped by a Super Bowl triumph in the Mesa County Junior Youth Football League.
“It was a really good season,” he said. “There were a lot of eighth graders on the team and I was a little nervous because the other quarterback was an eighth grader. I just had to compete every day and I think that helped make me a lot better.”
Marsh also played free safety on a defense that allowed only 2 touchdowns all season.
But quarterback has always been his primary position, and Marsh is skilled enough to have made North Denver’s FBU seventh grade team. The National Tournament starts the first weekend of December, with a trip to the title game in Naples, Fla., the ultimate goal.
It’s been a four-hour drive from Grand Junction to Denver each weekend for practice, but the extra effort has been worth it.
“I actually kind of enjoy it,” Marsh said. “The drive is long, but I’ve gotten a chance to meet other players and compete on a new team. It’s exciting because you get to see kids from around the state and I get to see how I stack up against them.”
Nod to NFA
Training with NFA over the summer, competing in the Duel and playing against eighth graders for West Middle School helped Marsh prepare for his latest challenge.
“I think it really helped me become mentally tough,” he said. “And it’s having the attitude that if you get hit, get right back up. I’m hoping I can go out and play my best.”
Training with NFA since he was in fourth grade and joining the Blackshirt program has already helped Marsh become the best QB he can be.
“NFA has helped me a tremendous amount,” he said. “Reading coverages is key and they helped me with that. If you can read coverages, there’s no easy way the defense is really going to stop the route you want to throw. Our (Raiders) coach would let us check down and I don’t know how many times we scored off of checking it to a route that was open. After that, it was just a matter of getting the ball there. And as for my mechanics, I was probably throwing 25 yards when I started with NFA. In practice this season, I think I threw 40-45 yards and my ball speed really got higher.”