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MARION: 19 starters return to build football

Staff writer

Shaun Craft enters his fifth year coaching Marion Warriors football and brings with him 19 starters from last year’s season.

“The kids have had a great off-season in the weightroom and continue to work hard with the goal of getting Warrior football back competing in the post-season,” Craft said.

Last year, the backfield combined for nearly 2,000 yards rushing.

“Jonathan Frese really started to come along late in the season after having to replace Nathan Hoffner, who suffered a season-ending injury in the first game of the 2021 season,” Craft said. “With a healthy Hoffner back in 2022, the backfield should be solid.”

Also returning are quarterback Jack Lanning and running back Trevor Schafers. Lanning will have wideouts Chance Shults and Ian Ingels as big targets.

“The biggest void to fill will be replacing offensive and defensive lineman Ayden Brammer,” Craft said.

Among those helping lead the way upfront on offense will be senior Quade Williams and juniors Cole Smith and Kayden Nelson.

“With a year of experience for this group working together, we only expect them to get better this season,” Craft said. “We expect Luke Watkins, Brian Nguyen, Brayden Blackman, Gavin Regier, and Kadon Mercer to be competing for the other two OL positions.”

Defensively, the Warriors will return 10 starters, including all starting linebackers and defensive backs.

Williams will anchor the defensive line.

“Most of the players on the defensive side of the ball have all had at least two years of starting experience, and we are starting to see that pay off,” Craft said.

Payoff hasn’t been immediate, however, as the Warriors lost their season opener, 46-12, Friday at powerhouse Inman, ranked second in the state in Class 1A.

The Teutons dominated the Warriors with big plays, opening scoring with a 69-yard touchdown pass early in the first quarter.

Marion responded with its own scoring drive to pull to within two points, but Inman returned the ensuing kickoff 80 yards and, as time was expiring in the half, scored again on a 24-yard run to widen its lead to 24-6.

Marion scored its final points at the start of the second half, but Inman poured it on afterward, scoring 22 unanswered points.

A bright spot for Marion was limiting Inman quarterback Tanner Heckel to just a 25% completion rate and 116 yards passing.

Marion outgained Inman with 132 yards through the air but managed only 55 yards rushing, compared with Inman’s 326.

Each team had only one turnover — a fumble by Inman and an interception of a Marion pass.

Marion was just 2 for 14 on third-down conversions. Inman was only slightly better at 4 for 10.

Last modified Sept. 8, 2022

 

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