MARION — With a couple more positive plays here or there, the Linn-Mar football team might be surging into district play.
Two defeats by a point apiece is the difference between the Lions’ 3-1 potential versus their 1-3 reality. With the non-district portion of the schedule in its rearview mirror, Linn-Mar intends to display its continued improvement in what it views as a bit of a fresh start to its season.
“We’ve just got to learn from those,” said Linn-Mar senior Luke Holmes, who will play middle linebacker and tight end for the Lions in a Class 4A District 4 opener at Davenport North (3-1) Thursday at 7:15. “Come back ready to go and hit districts running. Just do our best. We’re just wiping our slate clean and getting ready to go. It’s just like a new season.”
Linn-Mar (1-3) opened the season at Dubuque Senior and appeared set to tie the game with a late touchdown, but the extra point was no good and the Lions lost, 7-6. Last week, Linn-Mar jumped on top of visiting Urbandale, 10-0, only to relinquish the lead and lose on a late field goal, 17-16.
“You play the game and you can’t dwell on what happened,” second-year Linn-Mar Coach Paul James said. “We’ve talked to them about how we’ve improved from week to week and that’s been the goal. Just keep getting better as the season goes on.”
Holmes leads a Linn-Mar defense that has been fairly salty from the start of the season. Holmes, fellow linebacker Sam Starnes, defensive lineman Alex Lahmon and defensive backs Bridger Aucutt, Trey Martin and Cameron Walker have sparked a unit that has allowed less than 18 points per game.
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“Everyone is just hurrying to the ball, putting forth 100-percent effort,” Holmes said.
The Linn-Mar offense has been hampered by missed assignments and costly penalties, but the Lions have improved on a variety of technical aspects such as route running. Four receivers have topped 100 yards through four games under junior quarterback Marcus Orr, who has thrown for 786 yards, five touchdowns and four interceptions. Senior tailback Alex Hess has run 183 yards and three touchdowns.
“Our running game needs to come along,” James said. “I think we’ve kind of been sputtering a little bit at times.”
Linn-Mar will likely need to win its district in order to qualify for the playoffs. After Thursday, the Lions have home district contests against seventh-ranked Iowa City West and Iowa City High and road trips to Muscatine and Pleasant Valley.
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