Getting a head start on the season, Hillsboro and Marion gathered at their respective fields for a week of summer football camp.
Despite being allowed seven weeks that coaches can work with players for football, bask?etball and volleyball specific training by the Kansas State High School Activities Association, Hillsboro coach Max Heinrichs and Marion coach Grant Thierolf opted to use the final week for camps.
The seven week period ran from June 1 to Aug 17.
Off-season conditioning, defined as weights, general agility and running is allowed all summer.
Each coach used the time to install and improve upon all aspects of the game. Both said the young athletes are catching on quickly.
?I thought our camp was pretty good,? Heinrichs said. ?We did a lot of insertion of our offense. We worked on some basics on defense. We got a lot of good things done.?
He continued, ?(Compared to last year) I think it came a little easier and we?re a little bit further along than we were last year at this point.?
Thierolf said, ?We have a lot of young kids that have improved greatly over the course of the winter and the spring. That was the most enjoyable thing to see.?
He continued, ?Our juniors and seniors we kind of knew what was coming back and who can play and who can do what.?
Leading up to camp, both coaches have seen leaders emerge.
?We?ve had several players step forward pretty good,? Heinrichs said. ?Chance Reece and Ben Gardner have been pretty good about getting kids in (the weight room). Our kids in the weight room are anywhere from 44-53 a day.?
For Marion it?s been the seniors who have accepted leadership roles.
?Randy Regnier is going to be a pretty good leader for us,? Thierolf said. ?He?s going to be a guy that organizes things.
?Connor Thierolf is doing a good job of getting 7-on-7?s organized and coming out and working.?
He continued, ?Matt Sprowls and Dillon Richmond are doing a good job of getting the teammates together and working on plays. Adam Cope, Les Riggs, Jordan Versch; all those kids are doing a great job of really taking that ownership of leadership.?
Even though the two are only 10 miles apart geographically, their offensive styles are worlds apart.
Marion will rely on an Air Force, Georgia Tech style wishbone offense that focuses on the running game while Hillsboro will run a version of the spread, mixing up the pass and the run.
For Marion, the base of its offense will be the offensive line, which is what Thierolf has spent a lot of time working with.
?I?m helping coach the offensive line this year with Mark Meyer,? he said. ?We?ve got that broken up where he?s responsible for this group and I?m responsible for another group. I?m sure there will be some overlap in all that, but we spend a lot of time with our offensive line.?
Basically a passing team last season, Hillsboro plans to run the ball more, but will still air it out.
?We do try to throw the ball a little bit,? Heinrichs said. ?I am heavily engaged in the run. I know people don?t believe that after last year, but we do throw the ball a little bit and we want to continue to do that.?
Both teams will continue off-season conditioning until Aug. 16, the first day of fall practices.
Hillsboro starts school Aug. 16 and will not have an opportunity for two-a-days.
Marion school starts Aug. 18, allowing two days for two-a-days.
Hillsboro begins its season Sept. 3, hosting Halstead at Joel H. Wiens Stadium
Marion opens its season at Lyons.
The intra-county rivals will be in the same district once again and will square off Oct. 28 in Hillsboro.
Also in District 9 are South?east of Saline and Remington.