They may have lost their all-everything quarterback to graduation, but the Marion Bulldogs appear to be just fine heading into the 2019 football season this fall.
That’s if the team’s performance at the Wimberley 7-on-7 regional tournament is any indication.
The Bulldogs won the tournament on May 31, and are headed to College Station next week to play for a state 7-on-7 championship.
Marion went 2-1 in pool play against 4A and 3A schools, advancing to the semifinals, and then to the finals against 4A Lago Vista.
In pool play, the Bulldogs beat Gonzales and lost to Boerne in the first two games, then beat Fredericksburg, 38-12, to finish 2-1 in the pool and make the finals.
Going up against 4A Lago Vista, the Bulldogs needed a minor miracle to win the game and advance to the state tournament. Quarterback and senior-to-be Zach Goodwin engineered a scoring drive that culminated with Goodwin rolling out to the right and hitting wide receiver Jayden Williams in the corner of the end zone right next to a pylon as the clock hit 0:00 on the last play of the game.
The touchdown gave Marion a 27-25 win — and qualified them for the state tournament.
“We had a lot of guys step up,” said head coach Ryne Miller. “There were just a couple that were there last year, the first time in six or seven years that we made the state tournament.
“There were some seniors-to-be that really took control.”
The Bulldogs lost the district MVP, quarterback Tayler Mills, to graduation, and Miller said that Goodwin has played well in the 7-on-7 games so far this year.
Goodwin, who will be trying to replace 62 touchdowns accounted for by Mills last fall, made a big impact at the tournament.
“He’s done a phenomenal job in the spring and offseason,” Miller said. “He’s taken ownership and shown a lot of leadership at the position.”
Marion started a number of players on both sides of the ball in the tournament.
“It was fun watching those guys compete at a very high level,” Miller said. “Especially when they are competing against the 6A schools. They’ve got two offensive guys and two defensive guys at every position, and our guys are going both ways, playing ‘Ironman’ football.
“It gives these guys another opportunity to compete against some good competition, so you kind of get to see where you stand.”
Williams, Cade Baumann, Ray Rayos, Jacob Devora, Hutch Rabenaldt and Dylan Blakely all played both ways for Marion.
“We train them both ways, everybody goes offense and defense and most of our guys will be playing both ways,” Miller said.
Marion also competed in a summer league in San Marcos, again playing schools from larger classifications.
“We were the only 3A school in it,” Miller said. “We played 6A schools and some 4A schools like Wimberley, Canyon Lake, Seguin and Lehman high schools.”
Marion beat Wimberley, Seguin, Lehman and Cigarrao High School in the tournament.
The Bulldogs travel to College Station next week, with games on June 27 and 28, playing two games on Thursday and one game on Friday in pool play to make the finals.