116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
INDEPENDENCE — Marcus Beatty has all the tools of an all-state running back.
The 5-foot-9, 200-pound standout has the speed, endurance and strength to give opposing defenses fits. His greatest asset might not be as easily spotted when he takes the football field. Beatty possesses a competitive nature that has been vital for his success in football, as well as baseball, wrestling and track.
“I think I’ve always been competitive,” Beatty said. “I’ve never wanted to lose, whether it’s a board game or out there on Friday night. During the game, it never crosses my mind that we might lose. I always think we’re going to win and have always been that way.”
Beatty has pushed himself to get the better of foes the last two seasons, helping the Mustangs to the playoffs each of the last two seasons and penciling his name in the school record book.
Sixth-ranked Independence (7-0) will face its biggest test this season, hosting No. 3 West Delaware (6-1) in a Class 3A District 3 showdown Friday night at Lyle Leinbaugh Field.
“I’m expecting an intense game,” Independence Coach Justin Putz said. “I’m expecting them to be well-coached and really physical. On the defensive end, their front seven do a really good job of not giving a lot in the run game.”
The all-state ball carrier and two-time all-district honoree has drawn motivation from past losses. One of those setbacks was a 72-0 drubbing by West Delaware in eighth grade, which has resurfaced in his memory recently. It provides a little more motivation than the fact the Mustangs have won the last two meetings, including a 33-0 victory in Beatty’s sophomore season and first as a starter.
“I remember the feeling of losing and I hate it,” Beatty said. “That’s what I do in the weight room, when I’m running or sprinting. I think about that feeling.
“Like my eighth-grade year, West Delaware beat us 72-0 and ever since I can still see that scoreboard read 72-0 when I lift. I can feel it in myself. Any time we’ve lost in big situations I remember that and that is the feeling I remember when I work out.”
DNA could explain his mentality. His father, Bob Beatty, was the Mustangs’ Most Valuable Player in 1989 and 1990. He earned an invitation to the coveted Shrine Bowl and played collegiately. Bob also returned to serve as Independence’s head coach from 2002-2006.
Bob coached Marcus in football and baseball through eighth grade. He aspired to be a running back like his dad and entertains the idea of following him to the next level. Marcus has already surpassed his dad in multiple categories in the school record book.
“He has been my biggest role model my whole life,” Marcus said of his dad. “I’ve always wanted to be like him.
“It might be genetics. My dad was a college football player. He was always competitive. When we were younger, we’d always compete with each other on various stuff.”
Bob and Marcus aren’t the only two who have entered in the struggle to out-do each other. Marcus faces the same challenge with his younger brother, Drew, an Independence sophomore.
According to Marcus, the two have had baseball battles. The first resulted in Marcus’ bat flip and a scored triple in an indoor cage. The second was during a preseason high school practice where Marcus taunted his brother for not throwing strikes, followed by Drew plunking Marcus and then a brief skirmish.
“We’re pretty competitive with each other for baseball,” Marcus said.
Marcus stepped into the starting backfield as a sophomore. He rushed for 458 yards and five touchdowns as a complement to all-state dual-threat quarterback Logan Schmitt. Marcus’ production boomed to 1,767 total offensive yards, including 1,515 and 15 TDs rushing, as the only returning offensive starter.
“Between his sophomore and junior year, he took a huge jump,” Putz said. “He went from a good running back to an outstanding player as a junior and a guy that carried us.”
The three-year starter has improved on those numbers. He has already rushed for 1,658 yards and 19 touchdowns and is nearing his offensive yards total. Putz said he has shown the ability to get stronger as the game goes on and often asks for more carries.
“I think he’s taken that same big jump this year,” Puts said. “He’s really been dominant.
“Most people in the stadium know he’s getting the ball. I think to do that, under those circumstances, has been really important. Also, he’s one of those guys when things aren’t going well finds a way to make a play.”
Marcus embraces that responsibility. He said he enjoys the challenge of a defense that is geared toward stopping him.
“I like it,” Beatty said. “Knowing they are out to get me and still can’t stop me, it’s a good feeling. They’ll stack eight in the box and I will still run for 200 yards. I like the pressure of knowing they are out to get me.”
Marcus does a little bit of everything. It is a rarity to see him come off the field. In addition to his impact on offense, he has 15.5 tackles, nine solo, and two interceptions. He averages 19 yards per kick return and 18.7 per punt return. Marcus averages 35.5 yards over 16 punts. He ranks second in the entire state for rushing and all-purpose yards.
“He wants the ball,” Putz said. “To be able to handle the ball that many times, game in and game out, and play defense and return kicks for us, it takes a big commitment in the offseason to get ready to go physically and cardio-wise.”
The summer was a delicate balance between baseball and football training. He did a speed program three times a week at the football field, sprinting, jumping and doing other drills. Marcus also attempted to work on his cutting ability for this season.
“A big focus for me was to get in the weight room and try to get faster for the season,” Beatty said. “I wanted to finish big runs and work on my footwork.”
Marcus’ name is littered all over the Mustangs record book. This season, he claimed the career record for rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. Beatty sits at 3,678 yards and 39 TDs, topping Schmitt’s marks of 2,995 and 38 from 2017-19. He ranks among the program leaders in career, season and single-game totals from points to rushes and total offensive yards, joining his dad and uncle, Justin, on the same record-book pages.
“My dad and uncle held the record before they were broken,” Beatty said. “I want to carry on the family tradition.”