Marion football reflects on adversity-filled season, looks ahead to 6A Semifinal matchup

Patriots upset Benton to advance to 6A State Semifinals
Patriots upset Benton to advance to 6A State Semifinals
Published: Nov. 25, 2021 at 6:46 PM CST
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MARION, Ark. (KAIT) - For Head Coach Lance Clark and the Marion Patriots, it would’ve been easy to give up on the 2021 season.

One of the biggest wins of the season against Wynne? Taken away due to AAA sanctions with two weeks to play in the regular season. The two wins taken away moved the Patriots to 3-6.

“They’ve been through a lot of adversity,” Clark said. “They got a head coach hired in late, they had the AAA sanctions that had nothing to do with any of the kids and ultimately nothing to do with the result on the field in any of those games, but the rules are the rules and they have to accept the consequences and we do as a program.”

Clark, the first-year head coach, didn’t give up on the season, and it has paid dividends.

The Patriots closed out the regular season on a three game winning streak, beating Pine Bluff, Sheridan, and Jonesboro. They knocked off Russellville in the first round. Then, in what many called a shocker, the Patriots outscored Benton 35-13 in the second half to win 59-37.

If you talk to Clark, he doesn’t consider it a surprise his team made it this far.

“These seniors, in particular, have helped lead us and stand the course,” Clark said. “It’s that toughness that really defines this group and this town. And that’s what makes us special.”

And they’ve done this in part due to an offense averaging 46.8 points over their last five games.

“We just come in and compete against the best everyday,” senior running back Cameron Anderson said.

But, the job isn’t done yet. Clark and the Patriots have a bigger goal in mind: The 6A State Championship.

To do that, the Patriots need to beat an El Dorado team they lost to earlier in the season, 36-7.

“I think we’ve all came together and we’re all playing as one whole right now on both sides of the ball,” senior quarterback Ben Gerrard said. “Obviously defense is doing good but offense is pretty explosive right now.”

Clark credited that game as a turning point for Marion’s season, saying it woke his team up.

Johnny Nichols (Sr. DL): “We weren’t prepared for the game,” senior defensive lineman Johnny Nichols said. “We got lazy, had a bad start, so with this we have a new plan for them to play, and we’re gonna see how it works out.”

Marion will take on El Dorado on the road Friday night at 7:00.

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