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Cavs face surprisingly-good Marion

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Carroll will battle a Hurricane team that is 5-1 following a hard-fought loss to Richlands.

By Craig Worrell, Sports Editor

HILLSVILLE -- Those planning on making the trip to Marion for Carroll County’s Southwest District matchup with the Scarlet Hurricane on Friday may want to make sure they get there on time. This one may be over in a hurry. Not that anybody is expecting a blowout. On the contrary, these two teams appear very evenly-matched, much more so than anyone may have expected at the beginning of the season. But with both the Cavaliers and the Hurricane eschewing the passing game for a ground-loving, clock-chewing wing-T attack, Carroll fans may be able to watch the game in person at Hurricane Stadium and get home in time for “Friday Football Extra.” Though Marion was forced to throw more than normal after falling behind Richlands in last week’s 27-7 loss, don’t be surprised if the two teams put it in the air only 10-15 times between them come Friday. The Hurricane  attempted around five passes in each of the two games leading up to last week, estimated Carroll County coach Tom Hale, who called but one pass play himself in last week’s 26-7 win at Abingdon. All that means a running clock, fewer possessions, and therefore a smaller margin for error. Not that there is a lot of room for miscues to begin with. “They are playing really, really well right now,” Hale said Monday. “They’ve got very good skill, they’re quick and they get to the ball well. So far, what we’ve seen, they’re very impressive. They played Richlands very tough Friday night. Richlands hit three big passes on them, but they struggled early. It was a 14-7 game at halftime. They’re going to be a very good opponent.” Gauging Marion’s overall strength had been difficult, as the Hurricane won its first five games against three single-A teams, a winless Graham and a Grundy team that was 4-0 at the time thanks to a very weak schedule. But despite losing seven starters from both sides of the ball, Marion has played its way to an impressive 5-1 record (2-1 in SWD play), and showed its mettle against Richlands. “They’re definitely better than I thought they would be going into the season, because they lost a lot of seniors,” Hale said. “They’re playing extremely well considering the number of people they lost last year. The back, [sophomore Brett Johnson], is having a fantastic season, and the fullback [Eric Bane] is a very good compliment to him.” Johnson rushed for 256 yards in the win over Graham, and paying too much attention to him leaves the inside open for Bane, one of the Hurricane’s few returners. “They don’t do a whole lot, but what they do, they do well,” said Hale. Johnson and Bane have combined for about 1,200 yards and 14 touchdowns, with Johnson close to the 700-yard mark for the year, although both were fairly-well hemmed in by Richlands, which didn’t allow either runner as much as 60 yards on the night. Marion effectively ended Carroll’s postseason hopes last year with a 15-13 win at Tommy Thompson Field, a fact that hasn’t escaped Hale. “Last year they came in here and really got after us, and we feel like we stunk it up last year, so it’s a little bit of a revenge factor this year,” he said. “We want to go down there and see if we can pay ‘em back because it knocked us out of the playoffs losing to them.” Carroll County (4-2, 2-0) continued gaining momentum at Abingdon, running at will against the Falcons. Led by Dillon Caviness (183 yards on 13 carries), Zack Surratt (eight for 74 yards) and Blake Bowman (three rushes, 58 yards), the Cavaliers averaged 10 yards per carry, finishing with 360 yards on the ground. “We played a very, very physical game,” said Hale. “It was a great game to play going into this game. We went right at them, mainly between the tackles.” Carroll’s schedule has grown progressively more challenging since a win over Grayson County two weeks ago, something that fits nicely with Richlands coming to Hillsville in two weeks. “Right now there are only two undefeated teams in the district, that’s us and Richlands, so we want to be 4-0 when Richlands comes here,” Hale said. “That’s our goal.”   WEEK 8

Carroll County (4-2, 2-0) at Marion (5-1, 2-1) Friday, 7:30 at Hurricane Stadium   Last week Carroll County defeated Abingdon 26-7 Marion lost to Richlands 27-7 Last meeting 2008 (Marion won 15-13) Last Carroll County win 2007 (27-14) Common opponents None to date   The season  Carroll County                                Marion lost to Bassett 21-20             8/28    def. Chilhowie 10-7 def. Patrick County 28-27      9/4    def. Northwood 56-6 lost to Christiansburg 23-7   9/11    Open def. Tazewell 33-14              9/18    def. Rural Retreat 35-7 def. Grayson County 25-6    9/25    def. Graham 41-20 Open                                     10/2    def. Grundy 29-26 def. Abingdon 26-7              10/9    lost to Richlands 27-7 at Marion                            10/16    Carroll County Grundy                               10/23    at Tazewell Richlands                            10/30    at Lebanon at Graham                             11/6    Abingdon   The series 1994–Marion 28-6 1995–Carroll Co. 32-26 (3 ot) 1996–Carroll Co. 26-20 (ot) 1997–Carroll Co. 28-13 1998–Marion 27-7 1999–Carroll Co. 16-14 2000–Marion 6-0 2001–Marion 26-6 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 2008–Marion 15-13   Overall

Carroll County leads 10-5