MARION — A 1-4 start to the season wasn’t exactly what head coach Bruce Salmon and the Bulldogs had in mind for 2012.
Marion’s current losing skid continued with a 28-20 loss last Friday in its District 15-2A-I opener in George West, but there’s still plenty of time for the Bulldogs to turn things around.
And what better way to start than by hosting an 0-5 San Antonio Cole team that has lost to Marion by a combined score of 101-13 the past two seasons?
“We’ve played tough teams — a lot of which are already established — and doing that every week has been a real fist fight,” Salmon said. “It’s been hard to relax and play and that’s probably what we need to do the most, is be able to relax and play, and so we feel like this is a good week to kind of break out and get the ball rolling and build some confidence.”
On the heels of facing a pair of Slot-T teams in Navarro and George West, Marion will now turn its focus to the wishbone attack of the Cougars.
Salmon said that Cole does a decent job of executing but has been hampered by turnovers this year.
“They run the triple option probably about 80 percent of the time,” the coach said. “This is a little different in the fact that this is more assignment football. Somebody has to take the dive, the quarterback and the pitch every time. They’re not bad at running it — they’ve put the ball on the ground a lot and that’s really been what’s happened to them.”
Salmon identified Cougars quarterback Andre Terrell as the team’s main weapon. The junior has a team-high 69 carries for 143 yards and one TD. Through the air, Terrell has completed just 9 of 40 throws for 115 yards and three interceptions.
Cole’s leading rusher is junior running back Jerren Scott, who has piled up 226 yards and two scores on 49 attempts. Junior fullback Jacob Almquist has added another 116 yards and a TD on 32 carries.
The Cougars have struggled mightily on offense this season, coming into Friday averaging just under 139 yards of total offense per contest.
In addition to Cole’s 44-0 district-opening loss to Luling last week, the Cougars have dropped games to Stockdale (37-6), Randolph (20-0), Poth (46-7) and Yorktown (30-22).
Cole has turned the ball over 16 times thus far.
As for the Cougars’ defense, it has allowed some big performances on the ground, giving up more than 300 rushing yards against Luling and over 400 rushing yards in its loss to Poth.
Salmon says that Cole’s scheme will be focused on trying to apply pressure up front in an attempt to force mistakes.
“They run a split, pretty much putting eight, nine guys in the box and trying to stop the run,” Salmon said. “They’re going to try to man up on the outside and match up with our wide receivers and try to make something happen with the blitz prior to us being able to throw it.”
Marion has had some success both passing and running this season, but turnovers have held the Bulldogs back on more than one occasion.
In Marion’s three one-score losses this year, it has given the ball away a combined eight times. If the Bulldogs can fix this, then perhaps the games that were previously close defeats can turn into satisfying victories.
Step one is to try and break the team’s current four-game losing streak.
“We’ve got something to prove,” Salmon aid. “We need to try to get a little rhythm going. We played probably our best football game last week and had a couple mistakes at crucial times that allowed the game to swing the other direction.”
Friday night’s kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Marion’s Veterans Stadium.