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Marmion coach Dan Thorpe thinks this season's Cadets games will be most entertaining. As the season progresses he hopes they're less so.
Thorpe is confident in an offense that should have speed, power, offensive line crunch and receiving capabilities to move the football. He believes in the potential of his special teams. But from an 8-3 squad Marmion returns one defensive starter. He hopes to mold a unit that eventually will slow opponents down.
Thorpe is Marmion's track coach, but he prefers his track meets to be held in the spring.
"I think we're going to score some points," he said, "but I think we're going to give up points until our defense figures it out," he said.
As Thorpe noted, the sole returning defensive starter is "a pretty darn good one." Senior Luke Juriga, 6-foot-4 and 270 pounds, is a Big Ten and Mid-American Conference recruit who also just landed an Air Force offer. He'll start at defensive tackle as well as on the offensive line, and Thorpe called him an excellent long snapper as well.
The situation is not so dire. The 4-3 defense has good competition at linebacker, and though not necessarily full-time starters, Malcolm Confer, Reilly Dougherty and Tim Clohecy got playing time on the line -- Confer's 30 tackles lead all returners.
The line may actually be a source of depth with Neil Peterson, junior Adam Prosser and 270-pound two-way tackle John Gauthier, who missed all of last season with an ACL injury and returns motivated.
As Marmion debuts in the Chicago Catholic League Green Division, Thorpe is concerned about the passing games of Montini, Fenwick, St. Francis (with a new coach and spread offense) and, in a nice crossover, Aurora Christian. So he's hoping seniors such as Noel Abraham, Sean Campbell, Pat Zolfo and Jordan Glasgow, who all got reps in the secondary, will step up.
About Glasgow: The senior, also being recruited, suffered an injury requiring surgery on Marmion's second-to-last day of summer camp, Thorpe said. While the coach said Glasgow won't be ready for the Aug. 29 opener at Plainfield Central he fully expects the running back to add to last year's 502 yards rushing and 6 touchdowns.
Thorpe likes the offensive capability. It starts up front with Juriga, Gauthier, Clohecy and Baylor Johnson. Their experience will benefit a pair of quarterbacks, Rusty Joyce and John Tate, who Thorpe said will "both play every Friday night." He's done this as recently as two seasons ago. Joyce brings senior experience and athleticism, the junior Tate size at 6-4, 210.
With Glasgow initially out it'll provide handoffs to Marmion's usual cavalcade of backs -- returnees Campbell and Abraham, juniors Cole Bonebrake, Matt Ferraro, Nate Traxler and others including returning fullback Lucas Warren, a 235-pound bruiser who last year ran for 405 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Tight end Eric Bacorn has been catching everything, Thorpe said, and heads a receiving corps that will include Abe Moore and Joey Cherwin.
Thorpe also is high on a pair of sophomore kickers who each saw varsity time last season, Zach Fincher and Connor Hoeft. Consistency of conversions will be key.
Does Marmion have question marks? Yes. Are they insurmountable? No.
"As everybody is telling you, if we can stay away from injuries we'll have a nice season," Thorpe said.