In a final tune-up for both squads in preparation for the 2019 season, the Marion Bulldogs hosted the Johnson City Eagles on Thursday night at Veterans Stadium in Marion. 

The Bulldogs are poised to enter the season with intentions to repeat last year’s success. Marion finished the season with a record of 10-2, were an area finalist and went undefeated in district for the first time in the school’s history.

Head coach Ryne Miller is starting his second season at the helm. The Bulldogs are returning 10 starters from 2018, five on the offensive side and five on the defense.

Senior Zach Goodwin is the coach’s choice to take over the reins at quarterback. Junior Jayden Williams will wear several different hats during the season, starting on special teams, offense and defense.

“He is a type of player we can use in multiple positions,” Miller said.

Senior Ray Rayos will carry the load at running back. Backup Cade Baumann looks to increase carries from last year. The jumbo package will see senior linebacker, Liam Christensen, toting the pigskin on short fourth downs and goal line situations.

Senior Karson Kelso took over at center for Eduardo Saldivar, who was injured in a pre-season scrimmage in 2018. Kelso, along with senior Gabe Corona, hope to protect Goodwin and create holes in the opposing defenses for Reyes and company.

On the defensive side of the line, linebackers Williams, Baumann and Christensen are hoping to wreak havoc to the opposing offenses.

“When you have a young team, many of the players don’t have the varsity experience,” Miller said, explaining what the Bulldogs were working on for the scrimmage. “I try to put them in game-like situations. It’s hard to replicate that in practice.

“We’re going to put them in a goal line situation, a coming out of the shadow of the end zone situation, a third-and-short, a third-and-long, fourth-and-one, and driving in the red zone. Third down is the most important down of football. We want them to realize the importance of that.

“Coach Sine from Johnson City was on board with that. It was good for the guys to get on and off the field quickly.”

The final part of the scrimmage was a 12 minute quarter. Miscues and fumbles in the Bulldogs first offensive possession led to a punt.

The second series looked much better. Rayos took the handoff from Goodwin and found room to run, before being tackled inside Johnson City’s 10-yard line. Two snaps later Christensen scored the first touchdown from two yards out. Junior kicker Juan Ortiz split the uprights, making the score 7-0.

The Bulldog defense played well in the quarter, holding Johnson City without a score.

Zach Goodwin found Dylan Blakely for an over 40-plus yard pass completion for the Bulldog’s second touchdown. 

The Dog’s stellar defense kept the visitors out of the end zone to end the scrimmage.

The Bulldogs 2019 season opens this Friday night in Luling.  Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.

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