Friday night’s football game against Sedgwick at Warriors Stadium was a second wake-up call in as many games for Marion High School, as the Cardinals rolled to a 45-6 win over the Warriors.
The game mirrored the 50-27 pasting the Warriors got from Ell-Saline the week before, giving up big plays for scores, falling behind early, and struggling to put points on the board.
Sedgwick’s Logan Thompson wreaked havoc on Warrior defenders, catching three passes for touchdowns, running for a fourth, and returning a fumble recovery 43 yards for a fifth.
“The Thompson kid is a nightmare matchup for anybody,” Marion head coach Grant Thierolf said. “He’s been an offensive lineman all his life and now they’ve got him at the slot and running back, and as he get used to doing that he’s going to be quite the load to handle for anybody.”
Marion’s lone score came late in the fourth quarter when Taylor Heidebrecht tossed a 10-yard touchdown to Jacob Harper.
“I thought we played harder this week against probably a better football team,” Thierolf said. “That was one of the goals we had, so from that standpoint, there’s one thing we probably accomplished.”
Being outscored 95-33 in the first two games is reason enough to re-evaluate, and the wheels haven’t stopped whirring for Marion coaches since the final whistle Friday.
“We’ve got to fix a lot of things. Offensively, we’re going to have to make some changes, and we will,” Thierolf said. “We’re still going to be an option team. How we do the option has to be a little bit different. But at the same time you can’t ask your kids to go out and learn a whole new system, because then you’re back to square one as far as being indecisive, not knowing who to block, not knowing where to go.”
Theirolf said the Warriors may also attempt more passes.
“That’s an area we probably need to exploit a little bit more. It’s an area we’re definitely going to look at,” Thierolf said.
Two double-digit losses were hard to take, but if team members Isaac Baldwin, Jacob Harper, and Morgan Wheeler are a good sample, the Warriors have emerged with more focus, stronger leadership, and a team commitment to get on the winning track.
“Not too many teams have played teams as tough as we did starting off, and that’s really helping us right now,” Harper said. “We’ve just got to have everybody keep their heads up and stand, and not focus on anything but football.”
“The last two weeks and how tough it was for us definitely brought some people out,” Baldwin said. “We’re trying to move forward as a team, but we’re starting to get the leadership to come up and starting to get the team toughness to come out.”
Wheeler is new to the Warriors this year, having come from a larger school in Illinois.
“I’m proud to be here and proud to be a Warrior. I’m playing with some of the better athletes I’ve ever seen, even coming out of my big school,” Wheeler said. “I’m glad to see some kids getting enthused. Coming out against a tough team and getting that pop in the mouth real quick makes those bruises and scratches mean all that much more.”
Harper addressed the concern about falling behind early in games.
“We’ve been coming out real flat, and we need to get going real fast. They’re not going to hit you and tell you to wake up, you need to be awake right when you get out there,” Harper said.
“It’s not the coaching, it’s not any of that, it’s us not getting going. As far as I have anything to say about it, that’s going to get taken care of,” Wheeler said.
Baldwin said lessons learned from the early losses will help the team get better.
“To play with the caliber of teams we need to play against, we now know how to do that. We know what we have done well, and we know what we need to improve,” Baldwin said.
“We saw a lot more good this week than last week, I’ll tell you that much,” Wheeler said. “These days of quiet locker rooms are over — it’s not going to happen anymore.”
Baldwin said team members have taken responsibility for getting better.
“You talk to any of these guys on the team, every single one of them is committed to making an improvement from what we’ve been doing,” Baldwin said. “There’s a team-wide aspect of moving forward and getting things done, not taking any easy routes and not making excuses.”
There’s another level of commitment Wheeler said he’s looking forward to seeing emerge.
“The team needs to become a brotherhood of sorts,” Wheeler said, “and I can’t wait to see what happens then.”
“So far I think our kids have responded well, Thierolf said. “They’re looking forward to this week.
“We’re still going to be a good football team, but we need to get everybody on the same page. It’s nothing that a well-played game won’t take care of to get that confidence back.”
Marion will try to break into the win column Friday when Bennington visits Warriors Stadium.