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HILLSVILLE –– For a series that has been decidedly one-sided in recent years, Carroll County vs. Marion is about as competitive as they come.
In what has become a series of nailbiters that seem to always end up the same, Carroll County will host Marion in a Southwest District game tonight at Tommy Thompson Field for the Cavaliers’ homecoming night.
Although this game nearly always goes down to the wire, Carroll County (4-2 overall, 2-0 SWD) will be gunning for its eighth win in the last nine years against the Scarlet Hurricane (3-3, 1-2).
The 16 previous meetings between the two have produced two overtime finishes – including one triple-OT thriller – among eight games decided by a touchdown or less. The last four meetings have been decided by an average of six points each, and the spread in the two most recent games has been a total of three points, including Carroll’s 14-13 win last year in Marion.
“We always play each other real tough,” said Cavalier coach Tom Hale. “We’re both physical teams and we just seem to match up well on both sides of the ball. We tend to be a little better in the skill positions, but their offensive and defensive lines are always very tough.”
The balance in the skill areas tipped a little more in Carroll’s favor when top Marion runningback Brett Johnson transferred to nearby Chilhowie.
“He may have been the fastest kid in the district,” Hale said. “When they lost him it really limited what they could do offensively.”
Johnson is currently averaging about 130 yards per game and already has 15 touchdowns to his credit at Chilhowie.
“They’re pretty young on offense, and you can tell at times that they’re trying to find themselves,” Hale said. “Defensively they’re not a bad team.”
Anchored by 6-foot-5, 315-pound man-child Jacob Wolford at nose, Marion is otherwise fairly young up front but has vast experience at linebacker and in the secondary. The Hurricane has allowed an average of just 13 points in its three wins, and gave up just 35 total points in two of its three losses. Marion held a solid Cavalier rushing attack to less than 10 ground yards in the first half of the last meeting before the Cavaliers used an interception return and a passing score to rally for the win.
Pegging Marion’s overall strength hasn’t been easy, as the Scarlet Hurricane’s three wins came against teams with a combined 2-17 record (winless Northwood and Graham and 2-4 Rural Retreat), while its three losses have been to teams with a combined 17-2 mark (unbeaten Richlands and Grundy, and 5-1 Chilhowie).
Marion (3-3, 1-2) at Carroll County (4-2, 2-0)
Friday, 7:30 p.m., Tommy Thompson Field
Local radio: WWZE 101.1 FM
Marion lost to Richlands 51-6
Carroll County defeated Abingdon 28-3
2009 – Carroll County won 14-13
Last Marion win
None to date
1995–Carroll Co. 32-26 (3 ot)
1996–Carroll Co. 26-20 (ot)
1997–Carroll Co. 28-13
1999–Carroll Co. 16-14
2002–Carroll Co. 14-7
2003–Carroll Co. 26-14
2004–Carroll Co. 21-0
2005–Carroll Co. 34-6
2006–Carroll Co. 15-7
2007–Carroll Co. 27-14
2009–Carroll Co. 14-13
Carroll County leads 11-5
Marion Carroll County
L to Chilhowie 14-0 8/27 L to Bassett 17-14
D Northwood 21-0 9/3 D Patrick Co. 47-19
Open 9/10 L to C’burg 40-0
D Rural Retreat 27-14 9/17 D Tazewell 50-13
D Graham 29-25 9/24 D Grayson Co. 36-35 OT
L to Grundy 21-6 10/1 Open
L to Richlands 51-6 10/8 D Abingdon 28-3
at Carroll County 10/15 Marion
Tazewell 10/22 at Grundy
Lebanon 10/29 at Richlands
at Abingdon 11/3 Graham