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Football: Tartan facing a rebuilding year
A year ago the Tartan Titans finished the season at 6-1 in conference play and were 6-3 overall.
Their only losses came at the hands of conference powerhouses South St. Paul and St. Thomas Academy and then a non-conference setback at Benilde-St. Margaret's.
From last year's roster, Tartan graduated a whopping 29 seniors. While second-year head coach Aaron Mullen was not about to concede anything at the start of this season, he did say, "We are a very young team. Additionally, we are in the process of instilling a new offense."
Mullen did not elaborate on what the "new offense" might entail, but he did say, "We have some good numbers to start with. We have 50-plus out to prove themselves on our varsity squad.
"The kids who are out (for football) are a highly athletic bunch. Another positive with this group is that they have developed some good team unity. Those positives should prepare us for a successful season."
Assisting Mullen will be a cadre of assistant coaches:
- Marton Smith, tight ends and wide receivers
- Jeff Crosby, Jared Lyle and Kevin Priestley, defensive linemen
- Randy Taylor, running backs
- Jamie Oliver, defensive backs
- Eric Bronaugh, linebackers
The Titans will be led by senior captains Chris Graves and Montrell Johnson, and juniors captains Victor Garay-Triviski and Ben Engwer.
Graves is a running back, and Johnson is a linebacker. Garay-Triviski plays center, and Engwer is moving into the quarterback position.
Mullen wasted no time in pointing to St. Thomas as the team to beat in the newly formed Metro East Conference.
The Titans will open the season against the new addition to the conference when they face the Hastings Raiders on a rare Thursday game to be played at 7 p.m. Aug. 28 at Tartan Stadium.
The 2014 Tartan Titans football schedule: (Games begin at 7 p.m.)
- Aug. 28, Hastings at Tartan;
- Sept. 5, at St. Thomas Academy;
- Sept. 12, Simley at Tartan;
- Sept. 19, at Henry Sibley;
- Sept. 26, at South St. Paul;
- Oct. 3, Fridley at Tartan;
- Oct. 10, at North;
- Oct. 15, Hill-Murray at Tartan.
Tartan will play in the Section 5AAAAA playoffs, which begin Oct. 21 at the site of the highest seed.
Wally Wakefield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.