Marion makes playoffs first time since 2008

October 26, 2017

by Ben Murphy
Sports Writer

Marion has waited a long time for its football team to get back to the post-season; 2008 to be exact. When the Eagles play Bay City All Saints in their division two 8-man football playoff game tonight (Friday), the Eagles will have the benefit of some home-cooking to help their cause.

Players and  cheerleaders prepare for Friday’s activities.

Players and
cheerleaders prepare for homecomnig.

“It’s pretty awesome getting to host a playoff game,” head coach Chad Jenema said. “It’s kind of neat because we played them in the past in the playoffs a few times and now here we are, both in 8-man and we’re playing them again. We’re excited, the school is excited and everyone in town seems to be excited. It has been a goal of ours to bring Marion football back from and we seem to be doing it. It’s just great and the kids seem to be excited.”

The Eagles may be excited to be in the post-season, but they aren’t just happy to be playing the game; they want to win it.
“We’re excited but we’re not satisfied,” Jenema said. “We don’t want to be happy with just making the playoffs. We worked hard to put ourselves in this position by playing some tough teams and now we feel like we have more to accomplish than just making the playoffs. We want to win at least one game.”

After seeing his squad come so close the last two seasons to making the playoffs, senior running back Erick Carey is hoping to help the Eagles make some noise now that they are there.

“I’ve never been in a playoff game, for a few years we were stopped short by a game,” he said. “I feel like, if we can keep playing our game we can continue to go on. We have the fire and drive inside of us to win a few. A few mistakes and we’ll be done though.”

The Marion Eagles will be playing the Bay City All Saints in the playoff game.

The Marion Eagles will be playing the Bay City All Saints in the playoff game.

Of course standing in their way is a formidable All Saints squad, that has qualified for the playoffs in its first season of 8-man play. The Cougars averaged 39 points a game this season behind its high-powered spread offense.

“Their quarterback is very talented and they like to throw it around,” Jenema said. “Offensively they are dangerous, but for us on offense, we just have to do what we do, run the ball with power and try to wear them down. Really, we’re the kind of team that is built for the playoffs. We don’t care if it’s nasty or snowy weather, that’s kind of what it’s all about it. We don’t need it to be nice, the windier the better.”

While fall-like and rainy conditions have taken over the area this week, the Eagles had the chance to practice indoors on Tuesday, at the Marion Athletic Complex.

“We got to practice there and it was great for the guys to get out of the weather and to be able to focus just on getting our plays in,” Jenema said. “The guys really got a lot of work in. We ran three times as many plays as we did in a regular practice. It was really good for the boys. That’s the first time we used it and it sure was great, it’s very beneficial for a small school and a small town to have a facility like that. It’s a huge advantage that a lot of our opponents don’t have.”
The Cougars may not have the use of an indoor facility, but they should still be a tough-out in the playoffs.

“We are really excited about playing Marion,” All Saints head coach Nick Barton said. “The great thing about it is with it being our first year in 8-man, we’re playing somebody like the caliber of Marion to see where we match up. We had some good competition through the year and now we will see how we matchup outside of the league. They haven’t a seen a team like us and we haven’t seen a team like them. It’s going to be a lot of fun, a physical game that will be won in the trenches.”

1996 was the last time that the Eagles were able to win a post-season game. If things go their way, that could change as soon as tonight.

“The key of the game is our offensive line,” Jenema said. “We have to be able to establish our dominance in that area. We have to be able to control the ball, wear them out a little on defense. That will help us when they try to run their spread, high paced offense. The longer we can control the ball the more that helps us. They have a lot of guys that play both ways too.”

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