Team wants to advance further in playoffs
The Marion Warriors’ summer has centered on improving after finishing 2012 with a first-round playoff loss to Garden Plain.
“We had never been before, so it was cool to know that we could make it,” offensive and defensive lineman Nick Meyer said. “We’re aiming there and beyond this year.”
Meyer also noted more players had been coming to offseason workouts than in the past.
“We’ve gotten a lot better than last summer, working harder,” quarterback Taylor Heidebrecht said.
Head coach Grant Thierolf hopes the experience gave the team perspective on the level of work needed to go further.
“I think we’ve worked hard enough during the summer to get to that level,” he said. “Now it’s just a matter of putting it all together.”
The Warriors return seven starters on offense and defense, with every projected starter a junior or senior.
“I think we’re going to be more prepared coming in, and continue to get better as the season goes on,” Heidebrecht said.
Last season’s main fullback, Brody Carroll, graduated, but Thierolf is confident replacements Adam Janzen, Trevor Kruse, and Caleb Williams can complement Heidebrecht, who led the team in rushing in 2012.
“Caleb’s a little more a power runner, Trevor is more of a perimeter-type, get outside and run, and Adam just does a nice job of combining the two of them,” Thierolf said. “We’re looking forward to seeing what they’ll do.”
Thierolf said there is a lot of depth in the offensive backfield between quarterback and the three running back positions.
“Our running backs are all interchangeable,” he said. “We’ve got a couple of kids who can line up as a tight end one play, a slot back, and then go to wide receiver.”
Several offensive linemen can play multiple positions as well, where the interior of the line returns.
Grif Case, James Jones, Jacob Baldwin, and Zach Robson will be used as wide receivers.
The same amount of experience returns to a defense that gave up an average of 43 points per game in losses in 2012.
“When we did get beat last year, we gave up a lot of points, but we can’t do that,” Thierolf said. “We can’t give up the 30-yard passes, 40-yard passes, 70-yard runs if we’re going to be the top team that we can be.”
Thierolf said better team defense will start up front, where three of four defensive linemen return in John Nordquist, Morgan Wheeler, and Nick Meyer. Senior Zac Lewman will start at defensive tackle also.
Linebackers Caleb Williams, Kyle Palic, and Trevor Kruse return, adding Janzen at one of the inside positions.
Heidebrecht and Robson will join Jones in the defensive backfield.
“James can be as good as James wants to be,” Thierolf said. “He’s got all the talent. If he wants to shut down a side of the field, he can shut it down.”
An all-league selection last year, Case will again kick for the Warriors, and either Kyle Palic or Williams will punt.
“The big thing is us playing together, doing everything that we need to do, taking care of their jobs on the field, and just playing as hard as they can for Marion High School,” Thierolf said. “If we can do that, then I’ll stack us up against anybody.”