Marsing football players run drills during practice on Aug. 15, 2019 at Marsing High.

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The Idaho Press is counting down to the start of the 2020 high school football season by spotlighting all of the teams and the top players from the Treasure Valley. Next up is Marsing.

After being hired as Marsing’s new football coach, Mike Nunnelee had to wait nearly a month and a half to get things started due to COVID-19 restrictions. But the moment he was able to, he got the ball rolling.

The day after Nunnelee was told he could get started, he held three separate meetings: One with Husky players, one with their parents and one with coaches.

“And we haven’t stopped since,” Nunnelee said.

The knew coach knows just exactly what type of job he has in front of him. He will be the Huskies’ fifth head coach in as many years. The previous four coaches went a combined 3-29.

But despite the struggles in recent years, there are signs of optimism under the new coach. Nunnelee said that he currently has 35 kids on the roster for this season, about a dozen more than what the Huskies had last season.

Not only are the kids signing up, Nunnelee said, they are showing up in the weight room. The turnout has been so impressive that Marsing is expected to field a full-time junior varsity team for the first time in a decade.

“It’s has been awesome for me, the kids have completely bought in,” Nunnelee said. “They’re doing an amazing job. I had a long talk with them in my meeting speech and said ‘if you don’t do this with me, we’re just going to have a repeat.’ In the past they’ve had very low attendances to their workouts. I said ‘if you want that we can give you that, but I’m sure you don’t want that.’ They all agreed ‘no we’re going to move forward,’ and they have. Their words were not moot.”

Nunnelee spent the past two years running the middle school program at Buhl. He had previously held a varsity head coaching job at Murtaugh High, but took a few years off to follow his son’s wrestling career.

Knowing he wanted to eventually get back into high school coaching he told Buhl he would coach their middle school program for one year. He ended up staying two before landing the job at Marsing.

“I’ve got a lot of friends and family in the Treasure Valley and my wife spends a lot of time up there working,” Nunnelee said. “So it wasn’t a hard move for me, because there wasn’t anything holding me back in Central or Eastern Idaho. I was looking to get back into the game, this job came open, and here I am.”

He inherits a team that does return a pair of All-2A Western Idaho Conference players in seniors Nico Acosta and Cody Floyd. Acosta was a second-team selection on the offensive line, while Floyd was an honorable mention at linebacker. But Nunnelee also liked what he saw in a couple of other seniors, quarterback Kolton Scott and wide receiver and defensive back Austin Poole.

“Austin Poole is really opening the coaches eyes on offense and defense in our practices,” Nunnelee said. “He’s picked up speed and he’s picked up height and he’s going to be a force to be reckoned with this year.”

But for Nunnelee, the most important thing is just to get the numbers up for Marsing. And even with the success he’s had at that so far, he won’t stop trying to get even more players to join.

“I wish I could show you my texts, phone calls and emails, I’m probably close to 300,” Nunnelee said. “I am beating down every door, talking to parents, visiting where I can. I can not tell you how many parents I have talked to. ...

“It never ends. If you want to turn around a program, it’s not just coaching and running plays. You’ve got to have numbers, you got to have parents, you got to have the system. They’re buying into it, and as far as my efforts its a continual non-stop push.”

John Wustrow is the assistant sports editor of the Idaho Press. He is a Michigan native and a graduate of Indiana University.

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