Maranatha Baptist Academy Crusaders (Watertown) - Great 8 (8-player)
Coach: Philip Price, 1st Year
2016 Result: 2-5 (1-5), 6th in the Great 8 South
Three-Year Record: 9-15
2016 All-Conference Honors: 0 First-Team, 1 Second-Team, 2 Honorable Mention (3 total)
Three-Year All-Conference Totals: 0 First-Team, 8 Second-Team, 8 Honorable Mention (16 total)
Returning All-Conference Players (1): WR/LB Jed Mayhak (Honorable Mention), Sr.
Other Players To Watch: WR/RB/LB Micah Mayhak, Sr.; QB/WR/DB Jonathan Spate, Sr.; RB/LB Ben Veenstra, Jr.; OL/DL Ethan Miller, Jr.
BIG Games: at Oakfield September 1, vs Wisconsin Heights September 29, at Abundant Life/St. Ambrose October 7
New head coach Philip Price takes over a Maranatha Baptist program that has its roots from the founding members of the football program at the Academy.
Price, a graduate of MBA, played for the founding coach of the program, Rich Akins. Akins coached from 1977 until 2008, before turning it over to his son, Dan, for four seasons. Ben Flack took over from 2013-2016, and now, Price becomes the fourth head coach in the history of the program.
"We are excited to work with the guys that will be on this year's squad. They appear to be very hard-working and teachable." - Head Coach Philip Price
"As a first-year head coach, I am grateful for the work done by the previous head coaches, such as Rich Akins and most recently Ben Flack," said Coach Price.
Price has never been a head coach, but did spend 16 years as a college football assistant for the now-defunct Maranatha Baptist University Sabercats, who competed in Division III. He's also earned seven years of high school experience along the way.
A combination of his experience as an assistant coach and his experience with the Crusaders program shows in other areas of the coaching staff as well. "I'm also thankful to have two solid assistant coaches in Bryan Brock and Caleb Stevens," said Coach Price. "All three of us played under Coach Akins at MBA, each during different decades, so we know and appreciate the heritage of the program."
Despite not coaching at the high school level this past season, Price saw the work that was done by the Crusaders in past years. "Though I was not coaching MBA football last year, I did follow the team as a parent [and] fan," said Coach Price. "I appreciated seeing the seniors' hard play and their competitive spirit. Each one will be missed this year."
This year's team will feature some standout returning players, including twins Jed and Micah Mayhak as well as Jonathan Spate in the senior class and Ben Veenstra and Ethan Miller among the incoming juniors.
"We are excited to work with the guys that will be on this year's squad," Coach Price said of his returning players. "They appear to be very hard-working and teachable."
Price's two sons, including Nathaneal, a junior, will be on the team as well.
With the 8-player football season approaching, Price is working on getting to know his opponents, especially those in the Great 8. "We will need to work hard to be ready to play each team," said Price.
The Great 8 this year will consist of five schools, and will also play some games against schools in northern Illinois. Last year, the Crusaders won two games, but neither of those teams that they defeated will be on the regular-season schedule.
Abundant Life/St. Ambrose and Oakfield represented the old Great 8 South in the Jamboree last year. Maranatha will see each of those squads again in 2017 in conference play, as those two teams figure to be the favorites in the five-team Great 8 this year. At the time of publication, Maranatha will also play Elkhart Lake/Glenbeulah twice as well as a contest against Wisconsin Heights.
With a playoff coming next year for 8-player football, the goals for MBA somewhat mirror the institution goals at the Academy, said Price. "My goals related to how we play, are for the team to: improve each week; play with poise, intensity and mental toughness from start to finish; execute efficiently, minimizing mistakes and giveaways; and, exhibit good character both on and off the field. The main general goal that I have is to encourage our players grow as Christian young men."