Run Hesston run: Mustangs running back Marshall is having banner year
Wheeler running back Hesston Marshall looks for running room against Wellington during a district game earlier this season. [Tom Carver/ Press Pass Sports]
Rush yards: 2,423
Rushing TDs: 30
Noteworthy: Ran for 475 yards and five touchdowns in a 54-47 win against Archer City in the bidistrict round. Marshall’s also the Texas Panhandle rushing leader with 2,423 yards.
Anyone that hasn’t heard of Hesston Marshall needs to start burning that name into their brains.
The Wheeler workhorse is quietly putting together one of the best seasons in Texas Panhandle history.
One reason his year has been so quiet, is because of Marshall. The running back isn’t one for personal attention.
He about winning. That’s the mentality of a Mustangs team that’s won 10 games for the first time since 2009, and will face Hamlin (10-2) in a Class 2A Division II regional semifinal at 6 p.m. Friday at Fair Park Stadium in Childress.
Marshall, a junior, is everything a coach looks for in a dynamic back. He’s 6-foot-1, 170 pounds, extremely strong, runs with a punishing style, has a long stride, and gifted with raw athletic ability.
Those attributes have led Marshall to a career year, carrying the ball 212 times for eye-popping 2,423 yards and 30 rushing touchdowns.
“Hesston’s carried the rock and done a great job for us,” said Chris Evans, who is 24-12 In three seasons as the Wheeler coach. “Having that long stride you can see why in track his 100, 200 and quarter time are all pretty good. Once he gets through that first level a lot of good happens.”
Evans took over as the Wheeler head coach when Marshall was a freshman. Now a junior, Evans says it’s been a delight watching the development of one his star players since the very beginning.
“When Hesston was in junior high he was accustomed to getting the ball and getting the edge and taking off,” Evans said. “When he started playing varsity as a freshman, he wasn’t quite fast enough to get to the edge. He had to start finding ways to turn up and get positive yards. He’s learn how to do that, and he’s now fast enough to catch the edge. That makes him much more dangerous.”
Marshall’s vision is another key sense that puts him at another level against a defender.
Marshall breaks loose for a touchdown against Archer City. [Lauren Roberts/ For Press Pass Sports]
“The Vision on the field comes natural to me,” Marshall said. “When I see guys coming at me, I plant my foot, make a move and try to avoid them. I always look at it like playing tag with my brother growing up.”
Veteran’s Paden Markham and Alex Davis make up part of a physcial offensive line that plow the way for Marshall, helping to his 2,000-plus yard season.
Markham say when Marshall is putting up yards and TDs, it reflects well on them.
“We like to take some of the credit,” “Markham said. “We’ve been able to do a good job of getting to the linebackers, and giving him a hole. But when gets in space, and to that second level, it’s all him. He’s fun to just watch.”
Marshall is more than grateful for his big men up front.
“All the credit goes to those lineman,” Marshall said. “All those guys do their job getting holes for all of us. They are fantastic, and we wouldn’t be where we are without them.”
Marshall’s signature to this stellar season came against Archer City two weeks ago in a wild 54-47 bidistrict victory. The Wildcats were simply outmatched in every since of the word. In one of the best Texas High School playoff performances to date, Marshall put his team on his back, blistering Archer City for 475 yards on 35 carries, averaging 13.5 yards a carry with five touchdowns. He even thew for a TD.
“I just did what was asked,” said Marshall, who’s ran for 671 yards with seven touchdowns in two playoff wins. “If we needed a yard or 10 yards, I just wanted to help us win.”
Evans is still in shock to what he and the coaching staff witnessed.
“It’s fun to go back and watch it on film,” Evans said. “He can do things that can leave us speechless, and we’ll watch it over and over. He can make a cut, and you don’t know why he did it, and you go back and watch it from the end zone angle, and ‘oh yea’ it makes sense, and it’s the only cut he could have made.”
PLAYER TO WATCH
Wheeler is getting a rematch against Hamlin, which dominated the Mustangs, 44-15, way back in week 2.
Mustang standout linebacker Ian Finsterwald missed that game due to an injury. The senior actually missed the first five games of the year battling a broken collarbone.
Since returning at the start of district, the 6-foot-2, 190 pound Finsterwald has wasted no time catching up. In only seven games this season Finsterwald has a season worth of stats, totaling 132 tackles with seven sacks and five forced fumbles.
“You talk about a player that can chase down a play,” Evans said. “Against Eldorado, Ian blitzed off the left side and chases down a wide receiver screen play on the right side, and that guy only got 3-yards. He has an amazing motor, and the games he’s played he is averaging 18 to 19 total tackles (solo to assisted). I’ve been impressed with how much he focuses in.”
Next up:The Wheeler-Hamlin winner faces the Wellington-Windthorst winner in the state quarterfinals.