Boatman named 6A-East lineman of the year
By Chuck Livingston Sports Editor
13 Marion High School varsity football players garnered postseason awards after contributing to the Patriots’ 5-7 season, which included the school’s first playoff win since 2011. Marion defenders Cale Lepard, Jerry Boatman, Michael McNeeley, Gavin Garza, Kabryn Williams and Kuriston Hill joined offensive players Grant Bennett, Ben Vaughn, Collin Chambers, Tyler Holmes, Dathen Miller, Cameron Kohl and Tom Young to represent the school on the all-conference and all-state teams. Senior defensive lineman Boatman and the linebacker Lepard joined the junior running back Young on the all-state team. Boatman was the big winner during award season. Not only did the two-way star garner that all-state bid, but he also received more votes than any other defensive lineman, making him the 6A-East’s lineman of the year. On offense, Boatman received a 90.2% on his assignments and a 79.5% on his technique, and he led the team with 28 decleaters while also posting 8 pancake blocks, good for second on the team. Lepard had an excellent start to his junior season in 2014, but went down with an injury against Cabot. His return was one of the reasons that Marion’s defense improved so drastically this past season. Young followed up his 2014 all-state bid with another this year after rushing 151 times for 1,002 yards and scoring 7 times on the ground. He was also effective through the air as the junior caught 11 balls for 240 yards and a breathtaking 85-touchdown catch against Jonesboro that went viral the week following that contest. Marion’s all-conference players were headlined by four of their five starting offensive linemen. Bennett, a three-year letterman for the Pats, took down the highest grade of any Marion offensive lineman, receiving a 95.2% on his blocking assignments, while posting an 83.7% on his technique. He also led the squad with 12 pancake blocks and 24 decleaters. The senior was also an all-state honorable mention. Vaughn was just second on the team in blocking grade with a 95.1%, and he received an 82.9% on his technique. Vaughn had 5 pancake blocks and 13 decleaters. Kohl was the third Marion senior lineman to make the cut after receiving a 92.1% on his assignments and an 80.6% on his technique. Also an all-state golfer, Kohl was second on the team with just one penalty of the 811 snaps that he played. Miller projects as the lone returning starter on Marion’s offensive line after a junior season in which he made a 94.2% on his assignments and got a team-high 85.1% on his technique. Miller posted 7 pancake blocks and 16 deceleaters. In his second season as a starter, Holmes took a big leap forward. The senior completed 141 of his 350 passes for 2,091 yards and 17 touchdowns. He also added in 126 rushing yards on 59 carries, and a pair of touchdown runs. Chambers led Marion in catches for the second straight year when he hauled in 33 passes in 2014. Those balls spanned 615 yards and 9 touchdowns. In his second year as a starter at linebacker, Garza had a big season, highlighted by a two-sack game against Wynne in the season’s opening week. Only a junior, Hill came up with 3 interceptions in 2015, as well as 11 pass breakups. He was also named the team’s defensive player of the week following the Mountain Home game. Williams, a junior safety, switched positions for Marion in the offseason and came up with defensive scores in the team’s first two games of the season, including a memorable 99 yard scoop-and-score in the opener against Wynne. He also had an interception in Marion’s state quarterfinal loss to Greenwood. Williams was an all-state honorable mention. McNeeley had his second consecutive big year for Marion. The linebacker was the team’s defensive player of the week following the West Memphis and Searcy games. Marion also had four players make the all-conference honorable mention squad. Juwan Young, Darrius Lathon, Caleb Thompson and Dairren Evans comprised that list.