Marion sports young but very talented team

With the loss of several seniors from last year’s 2-7 campaign, the Marion football team and second-year coach Shaun Craft will rely on the contributions of younger athletes on the gridiron this season.

“We have a lot of players getting their first opportunity to start at the varsity level this season,” Craft said. “With the loss of several seniors from last season, a lot of kids have to rise up to fill in those holes. There should be a lot of competition for certain positions as none are set in stone yet.”

Senior Luke Lanning returns to anchor the Warriors as a second-team, all-league linebacker and offensive lineman in the Heart of America league.

Joining Lanning up front on an experienced offensive line are senior returners Matthew Christensen and Hunter Helmer and junior Todd Palic. The Warriors will rely on seniors Cade Alleven and Cooper Carpenter and sophomores Johnny Zieammermann and Anderson Waddell to fill remaining positions on the line.

Under center, the Warriors will need to replace two-year starter Chase Stringer. Battling for the starting nod at quarterback are juniors Will Alleven and Seth Lanning.

Marion will also need to fill the void left by Evann Heidebrecht at fullback, and Craft said he expects seniors Jaxton Tracy and Calib Mallory and sophomore Miles Olson to compete for time in the backfield.

With the graduation of wide receivers Sam Zinn and Eli Hett, the Warriors will rely on juniors Braedon Mercer, Seth Lanning and Bryce Mermis to step up, Craft said.

Defensively, Marion returns a handful of athletes from a Warrior team that began to find its rhythm late in the season.

“On the defensive side, we struggled last season until we got into districts and started to figure things out a little,” Craft said. “Hopefully that will carry over to this season with five returners on that side of the ball.”

An all-league linebacker, Luke Lanning will anchor the defense. Helmer and Mercer also return at linebacker.

Meanwhile, Craft looks to Palic, Christensen, Cade Alleven and Tracy to anchor the defensive line.

The Warrior secondary will be young and inexperienced, Craft said, adding that he looks for contributions from Will Alleven, Seth Lanning and Mermis in the defensive backfield.

With a small roster, staying healthy will be critical to the Warriors’ success this season.

“This might be the smallest team we’ve seen with only about 20 guys on the roster,” Craft said. “If we stay healthy and avoid injuries, we should still be able to compete in the league and make a run in the playoffs.”

Coming—The Warriors competed in a preseason jamboree—a controlled scrimmage new this year—with Remington and Republic County last week. Marion will open the season at Hutchinson Trinity Friday. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.