Patriots annual spring scrimmage set for tonight at 6:30 p.m.
Marion football fans can get sneak peek at 2023 talent pool
By Chuck Livingston
Marion School District
As the school year winds down, so too does spring football practice, and for Marion head coach Lance Clark, the surprises keep coming.
The third-year Marion head coach has guided his club through the entirety of its May slate, and the pleasant surprises continue to multiply.
Marion’s spring schedule wraps up at 6:30 p.m., Monday, May 22 at Southern Bancorp Stadium when the Patriots partake in their annual spring game. This year’s contest features the navy team and the red team, and the coaching staff drafting each roster.
“I wanna be clear, this is going to be a real game with guys competing hard,” said Clark. “There will be some offensive guys on defense and vice versa, but both sides really want to win because that’s where the bragging rights come in. It’s something for guys to look forward to until our season kicks off.”
Clark’s take on the spring game features a carnivaltype atmosphere, complete with food trucks, minigames with prizes, and fun for the whole family.
Best of all, fans can get their first look at the 2023 Marion football team for free.
“We have had really good energy throughout the spring,” said Clark.
“Especially Wednesday. I like where we are ending up on energy and competition because that’s so critical for your team. We did have some sloppiness early on, but not as much lately, so I think we’re tracking right now.”
The Marion offense likely returns 10 starters this fall, including all five offensive linemen, quarterback Ashton Gray, tailback Jalen Smith, receivers Matthew Kearney and Mitrell Lewis, and tight end Cameron Garrett. The Pats also return several other contributors who have played a ton of snaps.
Marion won’t be as seasoned on defense as it is on offense, but it’s a good situation. The Pats return a pair of starters (Dewayne Williams, Jr., and Victor Turner) at linebacker, as well as six players in the secondary who have started multiple games. Marion will be rebuilding its defensive line this summer, but Clark does not expect his down linemen to be as light as a year ago.
“We have had some guys step up recently, and we thought we would,” said the coach. “Now we get to figure out where everyone fits and how it goes and so on. But it’s better to do that when you have a bunch of talent than it is to do it when you’re lacking in some areas. We think this will be a very deep, talented football team if we can answer a few questions.”
Marion went through the first half of its spring schedule in the traditional format (1s vs. 1s, 2s vs. 2s, etc.), but the Pats broke up into their navy and red rosters a week ago.
The teams have played twice in that format with
See PATS, page A3
Photo by Londa Hamrick PATS
From page A1
each side winning once.
While the largest senior class in years (28 varsity players) makes for an extremely experienced group, there have been a handful of pleasant surprises so far in May.
Sophomore quarterback Zayden Walker has progressed since he guided the junior high last fall to a 44-1 record and a conference runner-up finish.
Senior receiver Johnathan Guyton “scores two touchdowns a practice,” said Clark. “Mostly in the air but we will hand it to him too. He’s just been unstoppable at times.”
Sophomore Kejaris and Kajeris Hill have proven explosive so far in spring drills.
Clark and staff needed to fill a pair of linebacker spots entering the spring so far, senior Jermiah Miller and junior Carter Moore have “blown up and they do everything well,” said the coach. “They’re consistently making plays.”
Defenders Cam Brown and Myles Dukes have earned more reps throughout the spring.
The Marion spring game will feature four, eightminute quarters, and everything will be live, including the kicking game.