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FOOTBALL: Warriors rely on experience

Staff writer

Marion football will be relying heavily on an experienced core of five seniors and one junior this season.

It helps that four of those five seniors are returning starters who play both sides of the ball.

“The secondary will probably be our most experienced position on the defensive side with Seth Lanning, Will Alleven, and Miles Olson, who all saw time there last season,” coach Shaun Craft said.

Lanning, who plays free safety, and cornerback Alleven are two of the team’s returning senior starters, while Olson is a junior and also a cornerback.

With Lanning at quarterback, as well as Aleven and fellow senior Braedon Mercer at receiver, Marion’s skill positions are not lacking for experience, either.

Even with that advantage, there will be changes, like for Mercer, who makes the leap to wideout after being an all-league running back last year.

Moving up to fill his spot in the backfield are senior Jake Hess and sophomore Nathan Hoffner.

The offensive line doesn’t have the same playing history, however. All-league selection and returning senior Todd Palic will anchor the line as its only upperclassman.

As experienced as he is, Palic will be learning a new position on defense. An all-state defensive end last year, Palic is sliding back to learn middle linebacker.

Despite having so many new faces to the starting rotation, Craft has been encouraged by players’ dedication to improving.

“So far we have been very pleased the time and work all the guys have put in,” he said. “We have had nearly perfect attendance all summer long in the weight room and expect that to pay off this season.”

That extra work will be needed if the team is to improve after going 2-7 last year.

There are some positives the Warriors can carry over from last year, particularly their 46-6 regular season-finale victory over Lyons.

In that game, Marion was able to spread the ball around enough to get multiple players on the scoreboard, a formula that might be a necessity this year with so much youth.

One advantage is that Marion has a large number of players in the football program as a whole, Craft said.

“We will also have several more guys on the roster this season, enough to field a junior varsity team to give our younger guys some game experience,” he said.

Last modified Sept. 2, 2020

 

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