North Marion climbing the ladder in competitive Class AA

RACHEL, W.Va. — North Marion won seven of their first nine games in 2019. The Huskies qualified for the playoffs for the second time in four seasons. But back-to-back losses ended their season in round one. Three of their four losses were to teams that combined to lose just one game in the regular season.

“We were in the position to host one,” said North Marion head coach Daran Hays. “And we really put ourselves out of it with a poor performance, turning the ball over and Liberty playing really well. We lost to a really good Poca team in the playoffs. We lost to two semifinal teams and one that ultimately ended up winning it. And I feel like we played Bridgeport as well as most anybody last year. We saw a lot of good things.”

This fall, North Marion’s experienced players can be found up front on the line and competition for the skill spots should be interesting to watch in preseason camp. Receiver Jahkari Mesidor was lost to graduation but versatile junior Tariq Miller returns.

“We are probably deeper at the running back position than we have been since I have been here with three pretty good ones. The interesting thing about our skill positions, obviously Tariq has separated himself as being a really elite player, not just on our team but in the league (Big 10) and in the state. But we have a lot of really good guys to compete for spots.”

Multi-year starting quarterback Gunner Murphy has moved on, leaving junior Brody Hall as the presumptive replacement.

“Brody has been behind Gunner and taking reps with Gunner for the last two years. He is obviously going to get the first chance and he is kind of the heir apparent. He is going to have to settle himself in like any first-year quarterback.”

North Marion is coming off their best season in eighteen years and they have won at least five games in five consecutive seasons. Hays believes that his Huskies can continue to pull the sled on a steady climb in the Class AA ranks.

“Now 5-5 seems to be a disappointment. We want to compete for playoff spots every year and we have to get over that hump. We’ve got to win a playoff game and we have to host a playoff game.”

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