It became increasingly difficult for Maplewood-Richmond Heights opponents to prepare for the presence of Blue Devil defensive lineman Marcus Taylor on the football field on any given Friday last fall.
Taylor began the 2010-11 season on the line on the stop side of the ball. But as teams started to run away from the 6-foot-3-inch senior, Blue Devil coach Brandon Gregory started to move him around in attempt to put him in position to make plays. The switches could come from game to game, or possibly even play to play.
"He's a track kid that plays defensive end," Gregory said of Taylor, "and he has a good awareness of where the ball is going. At this point in his career he doesn't have to react anymore, it's all about following his instincts now. He just knows how to find where the ball is going."
While Gregory's covertness aided Taylor's ability to get to the other team's ball carrier, it ultimately was the heart and athletic ability of the Class 2 first team all-state defender that allowed Taylor to put up huge numbers while leading the Blue Devils to the Class 2 state championship game before falling to Penney, 34-13.
Besides finding his way to 87 total tackles, 66 of which were solo stops, Taylor broke through or ran around opposing offensive lines to put his fingerprint on 28 tackles for losses (for minus-149 yards) and 21 sacks. Because of his ability to force opposing teams into negative plays, Taylor earns Missouri small school defensive MVP honors for the 2010-11 season.
Taylor's counterpart on the offensive side of the ball is Westran quarterback Tyler Hunt. Although the 6-0, 210-pound senior possessed the skills to allow the Hornets to run or throw the ball, Hunt put up huge numbers either way.
While completing nearly 60 percent of his pass attempts, Hunt threw for 1,821 yards and 27 touchdowns and tossed just two interceptions. Running the football, Hunt chalked up 1,790 yards and 35 more scores on 234 carries.
Following is a look at the Missouri small school all-state squad as well as teams selected for Classes 3, 2 and 1.