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LM, Marion football and volleyball prep for season
by Brandon Leonard Correspondent · August 17th, 2017

The beginning of a new season in any sport brings a lot of buzz and excitement to communities, states, regions and even the entire nation, no matter the level of sport. Athletes, parents, friends, family, everyone seems to gets excited when summer winds down and heads into the fall sports seasons. In the state of Iowa, there are no major professional sporting franchises.

But student-athletes, who devote their blood, sweat, tears and time into their favorite sports, are the heroes to the small children who can't wait to someday step out on the gridiron under the bright lights, onto the volleyball hardwood or even the treacherous cross country courses. This year is no different in the Marion and Linn-Mar communities, as the expectations are high at both schools.

Brooks and Paulson to make moves for Indians

From a football standpoint, the Marion Indians will look to build on a successful first season with Tim Lovell as the head coach. In Lovell's first season in charge of the Indians, he helped the program to a 5-4 overall record to go along with a 4-3 record in Class 3A District 4 play. With the switch of the postseason format going from 32 teams back to 16 teams, Marion missed out on a postseason bid, but they will be gunning for one this season and expect to take the next step to success.

From a playmaker standpoint, expect one of the best prep athletes in the state of Iowa, Blair Brooks, to give opposing defenses fits as Lovell and his staff will be looking to get him the ball all season. The person that will be getting the ball to him, Trevor Paulsen, is back after a solid sophomore campaign. Paulsen will be starting his first full season after earning the job last year. Paulsen shined at times and showed he's not afraid to get dirty as he willed the team to victory in Marion's biggest win last season over then-unbeaten Clear Creek-Amana.

Some other players to keep an eye on this season will be Chris Mohwinkle, Grant Meth, Caleb Wagner and Nick Cole. Marion will have a scrimmage game at home against Vinton-Shellsburg on Friday, August 18, at 6:30 p.m. and will then begin its regular season with a non-district home contest against Union, La Porte City on Friday, August 25, at 7:15 p.m.

New leadership for Lions

From a Linn-Mar football perspective, they will be looking to reload after losing a plethora of playmakers, including starting quarterback Reese Phillips. Linn-Mar, like Marion just one season ago, will be under new leadership. Exit Bob Forsyth and enter Paul James, a long-time coach for Cedar Rapids Washington. James owns a record of 97-57 in 15 seasons leading the Warriors and will look to carry that success over across the metro in his first season with the Lions.

Linn-Mar finished with a record of 3-6 overall in 2016 to go along with a 2-3 record in Class 4A District 8 play. They will face some stacked competition throughout the season as Iowa City West and Cedar Rapids Prairie are back in their district yet again. The Lions will have a scrimmage game at home against Dubuque Senior on Friday, August 18, at 6:45 p.m. and will then begin its regular season with a non-district home contest against City High on Friday, August 25, at 7:15 p.m.

New faces for both volleyball teams

In 2016, both Marion and Linn-Mar qualified for the Iowa High School State Volleyball Tournament that takes place annually at the US Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids. Both programs will be looking to make it back yet again.

Marion lost a lot of talent to graduation, from the likes of Isabella Sade to Morgan Swanger, but there are also some players who are expected to take on an even bigger role in 2017. Caitlyn Smith led all of Class 4A in assists in her junior campaign and has a shot to lead all classes in 2017. Keep an eye out for sophomore Kayba Laube and senior Kenzie Redmond as well.

Linn-Mar only graduated two players from 2016, Ellie Anderson and Emilee McGowan, but there are plenty of new faces on the roster that will be looking to make an impact. Megan Renner, Carly Spies, Ellie Von Lehmden and Tori Niemeyer are just a few faces to watch for the Lions in 2017.

Marion will begin its season against Williamsburg at home on Thursday, August 31, at 7:30 p.m., while Linn-Mar will square off with Washington at home on Tuesday, August 22, at 7 p.m.
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