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Patriots host Pine Bluff for Homecoming game tonight


Marion looking for important conference win against Zebras

Marion School District Cooler weather, falling leaves, and scoreboard watching are the universal signs of fall in Arkansas.

The Marion Patriots are trying to extend their school-record run of football playoff appearances this season to 17 consecutive years, but their exact seeding is to be determined.

The Pats (3-4 overall, 2-2 6A East) maintain an outside shot at a top-two playoff seed, which includes a first-round bye and home quarterfinal game, but most likely Marion can finish as high as the No. 3 seed or as low as the No. 6 seed.

Should Marion finish as the No. 3 or No. 4 seed, it would host a first-round playoff game at Premier Bank Stadium, but if the Pats sink to the No. 5 or No. 6 playoff spot they would play on the road against a 6AWest heavyweight.

“It is quite the difference between hosting a playoff game, which is always one of our goals, to not being able to do that,” said Marion coach Lance Clark.

“If we don’t take care of business the next two weeks we won’t be able to host. We have to take care of our business first and foremost.”

Should Marion finish third in the league standings the Patriots would host the No. 6 seed from the 6AWest.

Entering Week 8, Mountain Home, Russellville, and Van Buren boast identical 1-3 records but only two of those three schools will advance to the playoffs.

“Our ultimate goal is to be playing good football when we get to the playoffs,” said Clark. “We have three games left and we have been Jekyll and Hyde. We have been massively inconsistent this year. There are


Photo by Londa Hamrick MARION PATRIOTS(cont.)

times where we look like we can beat anybody and times we don’t. Our energy is up and down and we have got to get that fixed.”

Bolstering Marion’s push for a home playoff game is the return of senior linebacker and team captain Donte Moore, who was cleared to return to action on Tuesday. Moore missed Marion’s last two games and most of the Sylvan Hills contest.

Marion welcomes Pine Bluff this Friday night for homecoming. The all-time series with the Zebras is tied 2-2. Last year’s game was not played due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Marion has won two straight against Pine Bluff.

The Zebras invade Premier Bank Stadium with a 1-5 record, but Clark doesn’t think that tells the whole story.

“They’ve struggled at times this year, but they still have talent,” said Clark. “Our goal is to be a great team, right? That’s the standard we want to set here. To reach that goal we have to do things exactly right and be locked in every week no matter the opponent.”

Offensively, Pine Bluff dabbles with several formations

and schemes, but the

Zebras run most of their plays from the Pistol or Spread.

“They have a big offensive line and two receivers that I have a lot of respect for,” said Clark. “The QB can throw it. They’ve scored a lot of points early in games this year.”

The Pine Bluff game doubles as Junior Patriot night, where Marion football plays in grades 7-9 will be able to take part in pregame team meetings and warm up in their high school varsity position groups. Those players will be able to attend the game for free by wearing their team jerseys.

“We wanted to do this because we need the younger players in our program to know that they’re appreciated and we’re excited to have them with us,” said Clark. “We want them to be able to look forward to what they’ll be part of when they join the high school team.”

The homecoming court will be presented Friday night at 6:30 before kickoff. The 2021 Marion homecoming queen is Markayla Aldridge.

Homecoming festivities and the Pine Bluff football game will be streamed on and the Marion Patriots Activities Network mobile app.

Former Earle Bulldog turned Baylor Bear quarterback will lead his No. 20-ranked team against the Texas Longhorns at home this Saturday. Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. on ABC.

Photo courtesy of Baylor University

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