(Marion) – Marion head football coach Bruce Salmon and has two groups of Bulldogs to concern himself with in tonight’s 2014 season opener at Veterans Stadium – his own team first and foremost, along with the talented visiting squad from Yoakum High School.
Salmon’s Bulldogs will break in new starters at eight positions on offense and seven on defense after losing a strong group of seniors to graduation from the 2013 team that established a school record for wins in a season (9-3) while advancing to the second round of the UIL playoffs.
The retooled Marion roster, now competing at the Class-3A Division II level, receives the first test of a five-game non-district schedule against a 4A-DII Yoakum program that returns seven starters on each side of the ball from the 2013 bunch that went 4-6 and qualified for the 3A-DII bi-district playoffs. The gauntlet continues with games against Karnes City, Canyon Lake, Poth, and Odem before the bye week and the District 13-3A-DII opener against Comfort on Oct. 10.
“We’ve bit off a pretty good chunk, first of all with Yoakum, and the deal for us is that we want to play up and get better,” Salmon said of the upcoming schedule. “We kind of realize that we’re probably not going to go 10-0, but that’s okay. We’ll get out and take care of our business. With the extra non-district games, I really like that combination with this particular football team.”
Junior Hayden Holmes makes his debut as Marion’s starting quarterback tonight after playing running-back the past two seasons and having his sophomore year cut short by injuries. The Bulldogs’ most accomplished receiver, senior Camden Wilson (17 rec., 242 yds. 2 TD in 2013) anchors that positions group, and Edher Nava (2013 District Newcomer of the Year) moves to running-back as a sophomore, joining a deep stable that also includes Blake Jackson, Ty Bateman, and Noah Torreros.
Wilson is also the team’s most experienced defensive returnee after garnering All-State honors as a defensive back in 2013 and receiving Texas Football Magazine’s nod as pre-season District Defensive MVP heading into 2014. He and his teammates on that side of the ball have the task of trying to contain Yoakum’s dynamic quarterback Tre’Vontae Hights in tonight’s opener.
Hights, a TCU commit with 4.4 speed, ran for 1,425 yards and 20 touchdowns as a junior last season while passing for 1,072 yards and seven scores. He also recorded 62 tackles and three interceptions for the Yoakum defense, and his top returning teammate on that side of the ball is linebacker Ricky Camarillo, who registered 126 tackles a year ago.
Marion and Yoakum kick off at 7:30 p.m. The complete interview with Salmon can be heard during the Bulldog Report tonight between 6:30 and 7:00 on KWED 1580 AM and www.seguintoday.com.