Marshall defense

The Marshall defense swarms to the ball carrier against the Longview Lobos.

Marshall’s football team is slated to kick off district play Friday night after its entire district had a bye week. The Mavericks will be home in the district opener against Pine Tree, a team that owns an overall record of 2-0-1.

The Pirates enter the game having scored 128 points as they defeated Princeton 55-30 in the season opener before beating Crandall 63-28. Their tie came in a 10-10 final against Kennedale two weeks ago after a power issue caused the lights to go out and canceled the remainder of the game.

Marshall athletic director and head football coach Jake Griedl said his Mavericks will have their work cut out for them Friday night.

“If you want to beat Pine Tree, you’ve got to beat D.J. Freeman at quarterback,” Griedl said. “He’s an absolute baller, a really good football player, savvy, extremely fast, quick, understands exactly what coach (Kerry) Lane and that stuff over there are trying to do offensively and executes it at a very high level so it kind of starts with him. We’ve got to be physical up front because their O-line is extremely talented, big.”

Freeman is currently 22-of-41 passing for 506 yards, eight touchdowns and no interceptions. He also has 20 carries for 206 yards and three scores. The Pirates’ rushing attack is led by Tyler Sheffield who has 271 yards and four touchdowns on 46 carries. Ethan Morgan has 28 carries for 177 yards. Keelan Turner has 11 catches for 280 yards and three touchdowns while Nikema Williams has caught eight passes for 124 yards and two touchdowns.

The Mavericks will rely heavily on guys like senior defensive lineman Michael Washington and linebacker Terrell Davis.

“Our D-line needs to play well and our linebackers need to play well,” Griedl said. “Ultimately, we’ve got to prevent the big play. They’ve had a bunch of big plays on offense this year just because of their speed and talent so if we can prevent the big play, that’s going to give us a chance but if we can’t prevent the big play, it’s going to be a long night.”

Friday’s game will be Marshall’s “Pink Out” game and is slated for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff. Tickets can be purchased at marshallisd.com. All tickets cost $6 and are general admission. All fans are required to wear mask and to practice social distancing. The Clear Bay Policy is also in place.