Marrs forgoes burgers for TDs

HOWLAND – It’s been a while since Jaquore Marrs unwrapped the foil and savored the flavor of a steamy, condiment-loaded Five Guys hamburger.

It’s been equally long since he scarfed down a bag of their fries, which may be freshly cut but also drench half the bag with grease.

“But they’re all salty and delicious,” said Marrs as he drifted off into food heaven before coming back to reality.

Those kind of scrumptious meals are going to have to wait until after football season because Marrs has bigger fish (or burgers) to fry these days.

The senior running back is coming off a 1,300-yard campaign in which he scored 10 touchdowns, slightly alleviating the sting that Howland fans felt after losing Trumbull County’s all-time career rushing leader, De’Veon Smith.

But as great of a year as it was, Marrs wasn’t satisfied. In fact, he purposely picked the same number as Smith because he knew the expectations that came with it.

“I knew people would always be like, ‘Oh, why’d he pick number 4?’ and that I’d have added pressure on myself,” Marrs said. “I really wanted that added pressure to make sure that I pushed myself to be a better football player.”

He did more than push.

Marrs spent the past eight months in the weight room and put on 20 pounds of muscle. He became bigger, faster and stronger, and it didn’t come easy. He put himself on a strict diet – one that didn’t include Five Guys or McDonald’s.

“Hamburgers,” said Marrs of what food he missed the most. “My dad made sure that I was cutting out the junk food – all the fatty foods. Last season made me realize that I could probably play in college, so I have to do all those things to get prepared and better my body. Eating right and working hard during the offseason – lifting weights and running – was just part of the preparation.”

Howland coach Dominic Menendez certainly likes the results.

He’s known for a few years that Marrs could be a great back because he watched him dominate at the junior high and freshman level. He he didn’t want to compare Marrs to Smith, who now plays at the University of Michigan, but he did say they have certain attributes in common.

“Jaquore’s biggest asset in trying to model after De’Veon is that he saw how hard De’Veon worked – in the weight room, on the practice field and on game nights,” Menendez said. “That’s probably where you’re going see a lot of similarities. Not so much in running style or touchdowns, things like that, but just the way he works, he handles himself and he leads just like De’Veon did.

“That’s probably the greatest similarity and probably the most important.”

His dedication isn’t anything new. Menendez said he can’t remember Marrs missing a day of lifting “in three years.” It’s created what Menendez called “a great combination of speed and strength.”

Maybe the greatest byproduct of his consistency is the effect it has had on his teammates. Menendez said they’re more likely to listen to someone who puts in the work than someone who’s simply blessed with talent, and Marrs has plenty to say to the Tigers.

“When it comes to football, my team and myself, I’m very confident in the abilities that we have, and I feel like you have to set the goal high,” Marrs said. “So, the goal is to go undefeated, win the conference, try to bring back a state championship – be the first team in Howland history to ever win a state championship. And I’ve made it a point to try and instill that to my fellow teammates.”

That’s a celebration that would call for a burger or two.