Marion High School Athletics


Marion opens fall camp on Monday

Photo Credit: Londa Hamrick


When asked how this spring was different from his previous two sessions as head football coach at Marion High School, Lance Clark quickly sprung into action. Sitting in his office inside the football fieldhouse, he opened a spreadsheet that was separated into the traditional football positions on offense and defense. He clicked across his screen, selecting yellow highlighted squares with names inside them. Once he reached 50, he looked up and answered the question. “That's 50 kids who right now are in a true evaluation period, battling for a starting or part-time role,” said Clark, an Alabama native. “These are guys who offer something to a team, whether its athleticism, or size, or speed, sometimes all three, but it's at least one of them, and that's what's exciting. Everyone highlighted is someone who can help us right now on the high school level.” The idea that Marion opened spring camp on Monday afternoon with half a hundred contributors proves how far the football program has grown under Clark's leadership. After all, it was just three years ago that Clark's first team traveled to El Dorado on Black Friday for the Class 6A Semifinals with 47 players total in uniform and available for action. Growing interest and participation in the football program hasn't been easy for Clark's troops, but it has been important. “This way, our guys know that they have to show up, clock in, and do a job every day at practice,” said Clark. “The competition level is high every day because we feel like we have two and three guys who can play every position and there isn't a significant drop-off on the field.” Clark believes that Marion's depth was the biggest reason the Pats went 8-3 a season ago with a conference runner-up finish and a quarterfinal appearance in November. Now, Marion looks to replicate that success a year later with a new set of faces. Although 25 members of the 2023 Patriots have expired their eligibility, Marion's coaching staff believes that they will be able to hang their collective hats on a deep stable of tailbacks and receivers, and a defensive line rotation that could approach 12 or 13 names. Marion boasts projected three-year starters at receiver (Mitrell Lewis and Christian Young), tight end (Cam Garrett and Carson Catt), and tailback (two-time all-state performer Jalen Smith), along with a plethora of talented younger players promoted to the varsity. “All of those guys are proven commodities, they've been through an off-season, and they know how to prepare,” said Clark. “Best of all, they'll make life easier for our new quarterback because now he only has to play point guard and distribute the ball.” The defensive line returns two starters (Elijah Doss and Ryan Blackwell) and several others with significant varsity experience (Makhi Guyton, Jaylon Crawford, Tayshon Lowery, and Myles Dukes). “That group gives us a chance to have a pass-rush package, a bigger package to stop the run,” said Clark. “Basically, whatever we need to do in a given week or situation, we are equipped to do so, and that will only help us.” Clark has his eyes on a few significant position battles this month that he'd like to see someone emerge over the next few weeks. While Marion's defensive line can mix and match as needed, Marion's three starting linebackers will graduate next month, and four starters in the secondary have also exhausted their eligibility, leaving Marion with question marks for '24. “We have a lot of guys that we like at those spots, now it's about who's going to do what it takes to win a job?” said Clark. “It's not a question of ability or smarts, we know we have those types of guys, we want to see guys show up and win some jobs in May and over the summer.” Marion's got talent returning in the offensive line with projected three-year starters Charlie Cantrell at center and all-state performer Carius Curne at left tackle, and the Pats have been pleasantly surprised with other guys stepping up at right tackle and left guard, but the battle for the starting right guard could wage into August. “We have a number of guys there battling for a position, and it's even right now,” said Clark. “We don't know who's going to win it, but we do know that we have guys we trust, it's just about who can do the most stuff and be the most consistent. That's what this spring is for.” Marion held its first spring practice on Monday, May 6, and the Pats are back in action on Wednesday, May 8, and Friday, May 10. Week Two of spring ball will be held on Tuesday, May 14, and Thursday, May 16. Then back at it on Monday, May 20, Wednesday, May 22, and Friday, May 24. Marion's final week of spring ball has a workout on Tuesday, May 28, and it will culminate with the school's annual spring game on Thursday, May 30. 2024 MARION FOOTBALL SCHEDULE Aug. 23 at Valley View (benefit scrimmage) Aug. 30 at Wynne Sept. 6 vs. Harding Academy Sept. 13 at Conway Sept. 20 BYE Sept. 27 vs. Sylvan Hills* Oct. 4 at El Dorado* Oct. 11 vs. W. Memphis* Oct. 18 at Jonesboro* Oct. 25 vs. Sheridan* Nov. 1 at LR Catholic* Nov. 8 vs. Benton* *conference game Every Marion football game will be broadcast free on, the Marion Patriots Activities Network (MPAN) YouTube channel, and the MPAN mobile app.

PRIVACY POLICY (opens in a new tab) | © 2024 MASCOT MEDIA, LLC