MARION – Some are down, but the Marion Indians are far from out.
But, injuries to key players may have an impact on them. The Class 3A District 6 champions open the posteason, hosting Western Dubuque Wednesday at Thomas Park, beginning at 7 p.m.
The 10th-ranked Indians (7-2) lost Andrew Davis and lineman Justin Dolley. Davis, the team’s third-leading rusher and fourth-leading tackler who has 17 tackles for loss, broke his tibia and fibula in the fourth quarter of Friday’s 17-16 loss at DeWitt Central.
Marion Coach Tony Perkins said the team has a new sense of urgency, and ready to rally around one another.
“They’re more upset, mad, sad that we have a couple kids that were a very big part of the team that won’t be part of this. I see a lot of anger,” Perkins said. “I think they have a new understanding of what we’ve been telling them all along that every time you step on the field you never know when it’s your last play, so you have to play hard.”
It certainly wasn’t the way the Indians wanted to enter the playoffs, limping in with injuries and losing the regular-season finale. Eyes are focused forward instead of looking back.
“We’re kind of over it,” Marion senior Trev Biery said. “We’re using it as motivation.”
Biery leads the Indians with 1,021 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns. He has been hampered by a high ankle sprain. He estimates he is about 90 to 95 percent healthy.
“I just have to play,” Biery said. “Everybody is beat up.”
Perkins and the Indians subscribe to the philosophy the postseason is more of a mental game than physical. Replacements will be key to overcome the losses and make a deep playoff run.
“We’ve had that bug again where we have a lot of injuries,” Perkins said. “The next man in mentality and we’ll need some kids step to the top and take the places of some very good players. I think they’re very capable of that.”
Biery noted that Tyler Gunderson played a bigger role in the backfield early in the season. Colton Mowry is the second-leading rusher. Both will pick up the slack after losing Davis.
Junior quarterback Trevor Hardman has progressed each week. He has thrown for more than 650 yards with nearly half of those yards to wideout Quinn Cannoy. The combination could be more prominent in the postseason.
“Hardman will play a larger role,” Perkins said. “I think he’s ready for that. We’ve taken it slow all season You can see that in his numbers. The first three games we threw three, five and six passes. Now, we’re throwing 11, 12 and 13 passes.
“We’ve taken it along slow and now he’s a veteran and it’s time to go.”
Western Dubuque (4-5) finished fourth in an extremely tough 3A District 5. The Indians expect a tough test, realizing it is the first step toward their goal of reaching the UNI-Dome for the state semifinals and a shot at a state title.
“We’re very determined,” Biery said. “We don’t look at records. We go out and play.”
They will be playing for some of those teammates restricted to the sidelines. The close-knit group has impressed Perkins by demonstrating resolve.
“I’m very proud of them going through all the adversity with all the injuries and sticking together,” Perkins said. “We need to come together and make sure we play for those fallen soldiers.”