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Marion Makes Long-Awaited Return to State Semifinals

Marion Hillman Fb.consolidated.014

Marion will make its long-awaited return to the high school football state semifinals this weekend.

The Eagles (8-1) are making their first semifinal appearance since reaching the 1992 Class DD semifinals and face a tall order in perennial state power Powers North Central (9-0) in an 8-player Division 2 semifinal at Northern Michigan University’s Superior Dome Saturday afternoon.

Prior to the shutdown of fall sports in mid-November, Marion was on an eight-game win streak that saw the Eagles pick up playoff wins over Bellaire (53-0), Hillman (51-16) and Hale (14-0). The eight wins is the most by a Marion team since the Eagles went 10-2 in 1992.

Saturday’s opponent provides a much different challenge, though.

“It’s going to be a tough challenge for us, they’re the best team we’ve played all year,” Marion coach Chad Grundy said. “They have a dynamic quarterback we’re going to have to play really good defensively. We’re going to have to prep for that, it’s hard to prep for that speed, but hopefully we’ll get there.”

Winners of the MHSAA 8-player state championship in 2015 and 2016, North Central is in the semifinals for the first time since 2016.

The Jets recorded postseason wins over Engadine (74-6), Lake Linden-Hubbell (52-8) and Cedarville (55-8) before the two-month shutdown.

“We’re just going to attack them early and don’t let them score any points, like we’ve been able to do for a lot of our games,” Marion senior McCoy Williams said. “Just try to keep it a low scoring game, because they like to score off of big plays. We’ll try to take that away from them and then we should be able to win from there.”

The winner of Saturday’s semifinal will face either Kinde North Huron (8-1) or Portland St. Patrick (9-0) in the state championship game next weekend.

Kickoff Saturday is slated for noon.