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Warriors are ready to rumble

Team strengths include experience, size, and speed

Staff writer

When the Marion Warriors take the field Sept. 1 for their first football game at Moundridge, a senior-laden squad will lead the charge.

Coach Grant Thierolf’s projected starters include nine seniors and two juniors on both sides of the ball.

“When you’re experienced you can do more things,” he said. “Your kids are used to the varsity games, used to the speed, and their retention of what you’ve done in the past is so much better.”

The Warriors return seven starters on offense and six on defense, including four seniors who earned all-league honors: Jack Schneider at quarterback, Tyler Palic at offensive guard and inside linebacker, Jarret McLinden at center, and Corbin Wheeler at strong safety.

“I see all 12 of our seniors as having leadership capabilities,” Thierolf said. “All of them exhibit that at different times. They all lead by example because they’re very hard workers.”

Hard work over the summer showed results.

“I think we got faster,” he said. “For most of our kids, they had some very good gains in the weight room. I think our agility’s better.”

Probable starters in 15 of 22 positions are at least 6 feet tall.

“Size is only as good as size moves,” he said. “Size has to move quickly in order to be effective for us.”

“We got some kids that are tall at the skill positions,” Thierolf said. “Tall kids at your tight end, tall kids at your wide receiver, we haven’t always had that. I don’t know if it allows you to do anything different, but you at least feel better walking off the bus if you have some good, big kids.”

Thierolf wants to use all available speed and power in a run-first mentality.

“We want to use everything that we have,” he said. “I hope that we can run some power football, I hope that we can utilize some of the speed that we have. I hope that we can throw the ball effectively. I hope that we can stretch the field both horizontally and vertically.”

Thierolf said his team has quality depth at every position, but defensive line has the most room for improvement.

“Offensively, I think we’ve got a good group of skilled people,” he said. “I think we’ve got a solid offensive line right now; I think we can always work to get better at that.

“Defensively, where we’re having to learn is on the defensive line. We return a lot of experienced linebackers and return kids who have played a lot for us in the secondary. That’s going to be the place that we’ve to get better at fast is on our defensive line.”

The Warriors won the Heart of America league with a 6-0 record before a 1-2 district record kept them out of postseason play. Their last trip to the playoffs was in 2014.

This fall marks Thierolf’s 30th year as the head coach. His season goals have not changed.

“The same goal for all 30 of them: Win the league, win the district, and win the state,” Thierolf said. “Those three goals are always going to be what we have.”

Last modified Aug. 30, 2017

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