Written by Katie Morford Tuesday, 30 August 2011 16:48
The Marion Warriors have set their sights high for this fall’s football season. To reach them, several players will have to step up and plug holes created by graduation.
“Our goals, as always, are to win the (Heart of America) league first,” said coach Grant Thierolf. “Then win district. Then win state. Those are things we always have a goal to do.
“We like winning league championships, we need to win a district championship. It’s been a long time since we’ve done that.”
Thierolf’s theory is simple: The Warriors need to put their players in games that really matter so they can experience what it’s like to play under those circumstances.
“I think we have a decent chance,” he said. “We’re going to have to work to make those things happen. It’ll take an awful lot of work to do it.”
Thierolf said their district, which includes Remington, Southeast of Saline and Hillsboro, is still very strong, because the teams they played last year have a number of players returning.
He expects Hutch Trinity and Moundridge to be at the top of the HOA with very good teams.
“There’s not anything there that we can take for granted, that’s for certain,” Thierolf said. “We have a lot of holes to plug from last year, so we have to keep getting better.”
“We need to worry about ourselves, first and foremost, and us getting better.”
His first priority to fill is inside linebackers, where they lost two good players to graduation.
“Between Spencer (Fugitt), Caleb Williams and Cory Hiebert, we think we have three guys there who can do the job,” Thierolf said. “We’ll just get them in those situations and give them as much experience as we can, as fast as we can.”
He said they also need to find a defensive end and a couple linemen. But if they can do that they will be OK.
Holes aside, the Warriors will be putting several strong players on the field this season.
“Cole Lewman is doing a great job for us at quarterback; he’s working really hard at learning the ins and outs of the offense,” Thierolf said.
“We think Colten Johnson will be very good at running back. He’s got great vision, he sees things well, and has some instincts for football and for athletics in general. He understands it well.”
Thierolf said he expects last year’s starter, David Helmer, to get things done for the Warriors, as well as Dakin Ledford at tight end and defensive end.
“We think he’s going to be a fine football player and we think he’s going to be ready to go,” he said. “Also, Spencer Fugitt is just getting better and better as a football player.”
Thierolf said he had a number of other players who are working hard and should perform well.
“Brody Carroll and Mikael Antosyk, we expect those guys’ slots to be good and elusive,” he said. “We’ve got to do better blocking for that position (running back) than we did last year.”
The Warriors also have several newcomers who will be hoping to make their mark.
“It’s time for Wiley Lundy and Ethan Hett to step up and be ball players for us this year,” Thierolf said. “Isaac Baldwin, it’s time for him to come up and be a good football player.
“We have a couple of sophomore offensive linemen we think are going to be pretty good.”
Thierolf said they have not had much chance to evaluate the freshmen yet, but he expects Taylor Heidebrecht to be good and that Zach Robinson has a good understanding of the game.
“Zach Robinson kind of knows what everybody does on both offense and defense, which gives him a chance to play,” he said. “We have some good young kids coming up who we’re excited about.”
Ultimately, it’s just a matter of working hard every day and getting better, he said.
Johnson is the team leader on that score, Thierolf said.
“Colten Johnson kind of leads us in everything, “ he said. “He comes out, does a lot of work on the zone. He works awful hard. It is a nice thing when the best player is your best worker.
“He tries to win every sprint, he works hard at the drills,” Thierolf added. “He just sets a great example for the kids. Not very vocal, but he sets a great example.”
Thierolf said other players are putting in the hours, too. Around 28 of his players made it to summer workouts 80 percent of the time.
Though they may not have the size of some other teams, Thierolf said they have enough to be effective.
“We’ve got enough size to win games and compete well,” he said. “It’s just a matter of getting the size to move where they’re supposed to be, and then play at an intensity level that they need to play at to be successful.”
The Warriors are eager for their first game.
“We can’t wait until that first game,” Thierolf said. “After practices, summer preparation, it’s one of those things you look forward to because you really want to see what you can do.
“You might have some ideas, but you’re never really certain until you get that first day’s work in.”
The Warriors are scheduled to open the regular season at home Sept. 2 against Lyons.