MARION, S.C. – The Marion Swamp Foxes enter the 2019 season with a new head coach in Randall State and a renewed commitment to winning after transitioning to region 6-3A last season. Marion is 6-23 in the last three seasons but return with a more experienced group and higher expectations.
State, who served as a defensive backs coach last season said he was excited about the number of players returning and the new faces in the crowd.
“Training camp is better than expected and the numbers are still increasing,” he said. “We got a good senior group with good attitudes and good minds. That is going to make our team in the end and that is the leadership of the seniors.”
A pair of basketball stars are coming back to the field this season in juniors Mac Washington and T.J. Sanders. Both played football in middle school and will make an immediate impact on the team. Washington is expected to play wide receiver and defensive back while Sanders could see the field at multiple positions ranging from defensive end, tight end, quarterback and H-back.
“They’ll be studs immediately once they get out there and get some action,” State said.
State said the focus so far is implementing a new offense and teaching on the defensive side of the ball. Marion is off to a good start outscoring Lumberton 14-6 in their Battle of the Border Jamboree last week.
Marion senior quarterback D’Vonte Allen returns as a starter and the speedster will be running the football a lot more.
“He will run our option offense and nobody will be able to catch him when he gets out in the open field,” he said. “We’re trying to keep him healthy. He’s another great leader as a senior and he’s not going to back down from anybody. He’s a warrior.”
Junior running back Qualik Crawford is the most productive player on offense for the Swamp Foxes and brings big play ability.
“We want to get him 10 to 15 touches per game,” State said. “He brings it every-day.”
State said the team is going back to Marion football, which means playing physical at the point of attack and returning to the rushing attack.
Defensively, Marion will need to improve after giving up 33.8 points per game last season. Senior defensive back Jy’Heim Davis returns to Marion after playing at Pee Dee Academy last season. State said Davis has size and speed, providing a bright spot in the secondary.
“We’re focusing on hitting,” State said. “If we can hit people then we will have a chance to win every game this year. We just have to be physical. That has always been Marion football as far as I knew it.”
State said the defense will provide better pass coverage and will be better getting to the football.
Marion will travel to Johnsonville on Aug. 22 for the season opener.
Senior quarterback D’Vonte Allen is a three-year starter at quarterback. His experience and fearlessness will be reliable for the Swamp Foxes. Allen missed a few games last season due to a hand injury. A healthy season should keep the team competitive.
Crawford will be counted on heavily at running back along with senior Saeqwann McCollough. Blocking up front will be vital.
Senior center Brandon Bass will be leading the way on the offensive line. Senior Tristan Perkins should also be a major contributor. Dysauan Johnson will be another senior on the line need to provide protection.
Washington and Davis will be featured primarily at wide receiver.
The Swamp Foxes defense should see improvement with senior defensive lineman Jyrese Fore leading the way. Fore brings size and experience up front. Newcomer at defensive tackle from Summerville Jalen Nichols is expected to have a productive season along with defensive tackle Greggory Hopkins.
Making plays on the football at the next level will be junior linebacker Ky’Heim Bethea. Senior Christian James helps provide the Swamp Foxes with what State calls two studs at linebacker. James is a physical run stopper with experience Sophomores William Gurley and Kanye Brown will add depth at the position.
Defensive backs Antwan Woods and Trey Buie are another pair of experienced players that should secure the defense. Woods is called another coach on the field with the speed and agility to play several positions.
WR Mac Washington (Jr.)
WR Jy’Heim Davis (Sr.)
RB Saeqwann McCullough (Sr.)
FB Christian James (Sr.)
RB Qualik Crawford (Jr.)
QB D'Vonte Allen (Sr.)
LT Jalen Nichols (Sr.)
LG Tristan Perkins (Sr.)
C Brandon Bass (Sr.)
RG Greggory Hopkins (Soph.)
RT Dysaun Johnson (Sr.)
DE Dysaun Johnson (Sr.)
DE Jyrese Fore (Sr.)
DT Greggory Hopkins (Soph.)
DT Jalen Nichols (Soph.)
OLB William Gurley (Soph.)
OLB Ky”Heim Bethea (Jr.)
MLB Christian James (Sr.)
CB Jy’Heim Davis (Sr.)
CB Saeqwann McCollough (Jr.)
SS Antwan Woods (Sr.)
FS Trey Buie (Sr.)
COACH: Randall State (First season at Marion).
Aug. 22 at Johnsonville
Aug. 30 at Latta
Sept. 6 vs. Mullins
Sept. 13 at Timmonsville
Sept. 20 vs. Lake View
Oct. 4 at Dillon
Oct. 11 at Aynor
Oct. 18 vs. Lake City
Oct. 25 at Cheraw
Nov. 1 vs. Loris
(1-7 overall, 1-4 Region 6-3A)
Latta L, 26-23
Mullins (6-5) L, 52-34
Timmonsville L, 29-6
Aynor L, 37-13
at Lake City L, 6-3
Cheraw 37-36 (2OT)
at Loris L, 36-14
at Dillon L, 49-6
TOP RETURNERS: D’Vonte Allen (Sr. QB); Christian James (Sr, FB/LB); Jy’Heim Davis (Sr., DB/WR); Qualik Crawford (Jr., RB/DB); Antwan Woods (Sr., DB); Brandon Bass (Sr.,OL/DL).
KEY LOSSES: DB Dellion Moody; OL/DL JaKori Pouncy, WR Tariq Nowlin.