By TOM BONE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Many Princeton Senior High School football players said they were excited back on July 30 to get their first practice started with new head coach Randy Peek and a number of new teammates.
After toiling for two weeks now, lineman Christian Marshall is still pumped up.
Recalling day one of practice, he said on Friday afternoon, “Gosh a’mighty I was excited, knowing we had that new coaching staff, knowing that we had a lot of guys, fresh guys out here. We’re all out here to show what we’ve got, and get prepared for the season.”
He was one veteran who took seriously the need to help out newer players who had not been exposed to Peek’s system when he coached at Princeton Middle School.
“Those kids from Glenwood and stuff didn’t really play with Coach Peek,” Marshall said. “We’ve got to come up there and we’ve got to tell them everything to do. We’ve got to help these underclassmen [if] they’re having trouble with the stances, or the steps in the offensive line. We’ve got to teach ’em up, coach ’em up, as well as the other coaches do.
“Gotta be a leader. Gotta be a leader. Even as a junior, you’ve gotta be a leader.”
As a sophomore last fall, Marshall got some starts on the offensive line. “I kind of rotated from tackle to guard, every game,” he said.
He said about playing against Mountain State Athletic Conference squads, “It was scary at first. But, you know, you’ve got to tell yourself, all the time, you’ve got to stay in there.
“You’ve got to better yourself, too. You know you’ve got to go up against these bigger guys; you know you’re the young guy. That means you’ve got to work twice as hard.”
This season, he said, “I kind of feel it’s going to be the same way, really. You’ve got to prepare yourself, no matter what. I feel that I’m a lot more prepared. I’ve got experience, from being ‘the younger guy.’ ”
The start of preseason practice also meant adapting to a “totally different blocking scheme,” Marshall said. “Coach [David] Campbell came up and taught us everything else that we needed to know.
“We changed from one offense to another, which changed the whole blocking scheme of the line. But we’re all getting it pat down now. We’re executing pretty good, but we’ve got a lot to work on still.”
He’s made a commitment to the Tigers’ backfield personnel.
“As long as we block for them, they’ve got the lane,” he said. “That’s the promised land. I promised them we’ll block.”
This year, Marshall will probably also see action on the defensive line.
“The defense is looking real good,” he said. “Coach [Sam] Arrington knows what he’s doing.”
He said he feels good about the start of the season being two weeks away, but quickly added a qualifier.
“I do [feel good],” he said, “but we’ve got a lot to learn, because we’ve got to execute our plays perfectly. We’ve got to go out there and bust everybody in the mouth. It’s a new season. A new start.”
Last year’s Princeton ballclub was loaded with seniors. Marshall said, “I miss them all.” But he said someone has to “step in their shoes ... and do your best.”
He was asked if this year’s edition of the Tigers was “recreating the team in your own image.” He answered, “It’s not recreating, it’s reloading.”
“The whole team’s young. We all know what we’re doing. I’m real excited. ... I give all the coaches all the credit for everything.”
Marshall also gives credit to his devotion to weightlifting. He had a 420-pound deadlift in the state tournament as a freshman, setting a state record for his class and weight.
“Weightlifting has helped me with everything,” he said. “Especially being a lineman, because you’ve got all that explosion, you’ve got all that power you have to put into everything. So every lift helps you, being a lineman especially, but in every position.”
The line for Princeton is “pretty good,” he said. “We’re fast, we’re big, we’re all strong. We all know what we’re doing. We’re consistent.”
“I am feeling good” about the season, he said. “As long as we go out there and execute, we’ll be all right.”
— Contact Tom Bone at