Tim Lovell hopes to get Marion climbing again

Indians look to put an end to losing streak

New Marion head football coach Tim Lovell gives instruction to players during the first day of practice at Marion High School on Aug. 8. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
New Marion head football coach Tim Lovell gives instruction to players during the first day of practice at Marion High School on Aug. 8. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

MARION — A red tarp is fastened to a white shed at the south end of the Marion High School practice field.

On that red tarp are scripted the “Covenants of Marion Football,” six pillars that first-year coach Tim Lovell demands from his new team.

• Be hungry and humble.

• Support coaches and teammates.

• We before me.

• Demand excellence.

• Be accountable.

• Be unshakeable.

“We will be successful if we do these things, all the things we talked about all summer,” Lovell said.

Success is relative. And for a traditional strong program that enters the season with a 17-game losing streak, goals are modest. Instead of talking about playoffs, the Indians are talking about progress.

“Coming off 0-9 last year, people speak down on us,” running back/cornerback Owen Cartensen said. “We’ve got a chance to win some games. Two or three would be an accomplishment. Maybe we can get to five. But everybody’s got to be on the same page.”

Quarterback Isaak Hahn said, “As long as we play 100 percent, we’ll walk away with a successful season. The record will take care of itself.”

Tony Perkins resigned after last season after a 17-year run, and Marion turned to Lovell, a former assistant at Linn-Mar.

A native of Palatine, Ill., Lovell played at Cornell College, from which he graduated in 1997.


“He has brought a lot of energy,” said junior receiver Blair Brooks. “He’s a great guy, a great coach. Everybody’s ready to compete, and that’s all you can ask for.”


Lovell describes himself as energetic, passionate and demanding.

“You can be demanding without being demeaning,” he said. “I’ll raise my voice. I expect a lot out of these kids. But you also have to know when to give them a little sugar and love up to them.”

Lovell has assembled a quality staff that includes former Cornell head coach Ray Reasland and former Marion head coach Dave Messerli.

Reasland will serve as defensive coordinator. Messerli “is a great mentor,” Lovell said, who will work with the scout team and assist with the running backs.

Hahn (1,181 passing yards, eight touchdowns, 13 interceptions) is back and will target Brooks (21 catches, 299 yards, two TDs).

“We can go three- or four-wide and spread people out,” Lovell said. “But in high-school football, you’ve got to be able to run the ball first and foremost.”

Cartensen leads the defense. He posted 21.5 tackles last year, plus three interceptions and two fumble recoveries.


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“We’re going to be tough, we’re going to be well-conditioned, and we’re going to be ready to play,” Carstensen said. “I can’t wait to put on the pads. A lot of guys are ready to start hitting.

“This team was missing energy last year. Now, people are speaking up. There’s going to be more leadership.”

• 2016 Prep Football Preview

The Indians open at Union on Aug. 26. There’s no Cedar Rapids Xavier or Solon on the schedule, but there aren’t any easy wins, either.

“Right now, we’re trying to change the mindset,” Lovell said. “We want it to go from ‘I’m not sure I can do this’ to ‘I can do this.’

“Eventually, I want to get Marion football back to statewide prominence. I want this to be my last coaching job. But short-term, I want everybody to be all-in, and I want to get a couple wins under these kids’ belts.”


• Coach: Tim Lovell (1st year, 0-0)

• Last year: 0-9 overall, 0-6 Class 3A District 4

• Returning letterwinners: WR Blair Brooks (jr.), RB/DB Owen Carstensen (sr.), OL/DL Sam Gordon (sr.), QB Isaak Hahn (sr.), OL/LB Nate Holub (sr.), RB/LB Jacob Maloney (sr.), WR/DB Clayton Mohwinkle (sr.), OL/DL Kavin Nguyen (sr.), TE/DE Seth Tuetken (sr.), WR/DB Tylor Fairbanks (sr.), OL/DL Dante Rouson (sr.), HB/LB Austin Ward (sr.).

• Key losses: Korey Walsh, Gage Kray, Ben Knapp, Keanu Quinn.

• Key to making the playoffs: After dropping 17 straight games and facing a condensed playoff field this year, a postseason berth is a long shot. The aim this year is to take a step toward becoming competitive and restoring the pride and respect that has surrounded the program in the past.


• Games to watch: Most likely wins on the schedule come on the road, Sept. 16 (at Dubuque Wahlert) and Sept. 30 (at Center Point-Urbana).

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