Has it really been nearly three decades since the Marion football team last made a deep push into the postseason?
Long-time coach Grant Thierolf fielded several teams that made it to the second week of November, but making the Final Four has been unchartered waters since 1994.
Sixth-year coach Shaun Craft was a part of four of those teams that fell just short.
Don’t look now, but this may be Marion’s best shot to break through after back-to-back winning seasons, including a 6-4 finish a year ago.
“We’ve got a good core and a lot of experience coming back, our goals are pretty high this year,” Craft said. “Some of those guys have been starting for two or three years. It’s time for that to pay off.”
Just how far the Warriors can go depends heavily on Craft’s senior duo, quarterback Jack Lanning and running back Trevor Schafers.
Lanning can punish opponents both with his legs and his arm. Schafers, the Warriors’ returning leading rusher and tackler, is a problem on both sides of the ball.
That’s not all Craft has though, with senior wideout and secondary player Jonathan Frese; Kellen Waner, Luke Watkins, Cole Smith, Brian Nguyen, and Brayden Blackman.
“Depth is the biggest concern,” Craft said. “We’ve got 29 guys out. Games are 48 minutes long. Some of them will be playing both ways and won’t get any breathers.
“Our league is loaded this year. There’s not going to be any cakewalks”.
Marion opened the season Friday, beating the back-to-back Class 1A runner-up, Inman, and will face formidable challenges with Hutch-Trinity, Sterling, and bitter-rival Sedgwick.