DENTON, Texas -- The Marcus Marauders' 2022 season came to an abrupt end on a chilly, wind-swept Friday night as state-ranked Denton Guyer proved to be too much in a 42-7 Bi-District Playoff victory.
The Marauders were more than up to the task in the early going, bolstered by a brilliant defensive performance, a steady running game and timely plays in the passing game. In fact, the Marauders ended the first quarter tied, 7-7, after junior quarterback Cole Welliver connected with Chance Sautter on a 34-yard touchdown pass on the final play of the quarter.
The game remained close through most of the second quarter, too. Guyer led, 14-7, as halftime neared but intercepted a deflected pass and returned it to the Marauders' 7-yard line. Guyer scored two plays later to take a 21-7 halftime lead.
Junior running back Ben Perlmutter enjoyed one of his best games of the season with 92 yards rushing on 15 carries, and Welliver finished with 175 yards passing and the TD to Sautter.
Although Marcus finishes the season at 6-5 (5-2 in District 6-6A), the Marauders can take at least some solace in playing one of the most formidable schedules in recent memory. Four of the team's five losses came against teams ranked No. 4 (Southlake Carroll), No. 6 (Denton Guyer), No. 16 (Highland Park) and No. 25 (Lewisville) in the final AP state rankings. The combined record of those four teams: 43-1. And they're all moving on to the second round of the playoffs.
The Marauders will no doubt take key lessons learned from this season and carry them into a productive offseason, intent on returning as an improved squad in 2023.
Before Thursday night's regular-season finale against Plano East, the Marcus Marauders paid tribute to their Class of 2023 seniors and honored inspirational head coach Kevin Atkinson in his ongoing fight against Parkinson's disease. It was a unique, richly emotional pregame preparation that produced goosebumps, electricity -- and a team absolutely ready to play.
It was destined to be a long night for Plano East as Marcus dominated on both sides of the ball en route to a 50-7 blowout victory.
The Marauders' brilliantly opportunistic defense recorded three first-half interceptions (one each from Ayo Oluwole, Kole McKnight and Mason Whitesell) that helped establish a 22-0 lead just two minutes into the second quarter. QB Cole Welliver delivered first-half TD tosses to Ashton Cozart and Aidan Grummer, and RB Ben Perlmutter scored on a 4-yard run. Plano East closed the gap to 22-7 later in the first half but a brilliant goal-line stand by the Marauders' defense just before halftime swung momentum back to Marcus -- and that's where it remained for the rest of the game.
The Marauders outscored Plano East in the second half, 28-0, as sophomore athlete Brock Golwas scored on a short run and on a pick-six. Those two scores bookended Chance Sautter's 9-yard TD run and Phillip Ponds' 40-yard TD reception.
It was seemingly a picture-perfect way to end the 2022 regular season for the Marauders, who will face state-ranked powerhouse Denton Guyer in a Bi-District playoff matchup Friday.
PLANO, Texas -- It was rainy. It was cold. It was delayed. Three times. Yet, in the end Friday night inside Plano's John Clark Stadium, the Marcus Marauders delivered an unconditionally beautiful, all-hands-on-deck performance to take down Plano, 31-17. Marcus got key contributions from seemingly everywhere -- the defense, special teams, running game and passing game. As a result, the Marauders earned their fourth consecutive playoff berth.
Although weather delays pushed kickoff back almost 90 minutes and forced both teams back into the locker room during pregame warmups, the show did finally go on. Both teams opened the game, perhaps expectedly, with first-drive punts. But a Devin Strange fumble recovery to end Plano's second drive was followed 13 plays later by Marcus QB Cole Welliver's first-career rushing touchdown -- a 2-yard sneak -- to give the Marauders a 7-0 lead. On the ensuing kickoff, Plano fumbled again, Marcus recovered again (this time it was Gavin Ward doing the honors) and the Marauders capitalized 10 players later with Ben Perlmutter's 2-yard touchdown run on fourth down.
Plano responded with a touchdown on its next possession and went into the drastically abbreviated halftime trailing the Marauders, 14-6. The Wildcats would tie the game on their first play of the third quarter. Following a Marcus punt to open the second half, Plano connected on a 52-yard touchdown pass and subsequent two-point conversion. The rest of the game, however, belonged to Marcus.
The Marauders regained the lead on a thing-of-beauty 73-yard catch-and-run touchdown strike from Welliver to Isaac Khattab midway through the third quarter. Marcus backup kicker Reef Ingram extended the lead to 24-14 with a 26-yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter and Perlmutter's second touchdown run of the night (this one from eight yards out) with just 2:25 remaining finished the deed.
Marcus amassed 342 total yards (to Plano's 246) and Welliver threw for 207 yards. Khattab finished with three receptions for 106 yards and three different Marcus running backs (Chance Sautter, Chance Banner and Perlmutter) accounted for 131 yards rushing on 32 carries.
Marcus (5-4, 4-2) will conclude the regular season at home Friday with a Senior Night showdown against Plano East (3-6, 0-6).
LEWISVILLE, Texas -- A brilliant, game-long defensive performance by the Marcus Marauders on Friday night was ultimately undone by a stiff breeze that wreaked havoc on the Marcus passing game and special teams units. In the end, Lewisville's 31-yard field goal with just 24 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter gave Lewisville the 17-14 victory in the 37th Battle of the Axe game.
It's Lewisville's first win in the annual rivalry game since 2018. Marcus leads the all-time series, 21-16.
After falling behind early, 7-0, the Marauders' defense responded with its best performance of the season. Just before halftime, a Chance Sautter strip was recovered by Colton Bedgood and returned 19 yards for a touchdown to tie the game, 7-7, heading into halftime. That duo created havoc again on the opening kickoff of the third quarter. Sautter's hit caused a fumble, Bedgood recovered.
Five plays later, Marcus QB Cole Welliver found TE Aidan Grummer in the back of the end zone on third down for a 3-yard touchdown pass to put the Marauders ahead, 14-7, early in the third quarter.
Much of the rest of the game was marked by stringent defense on both sides of the ball. The Marauders allowed just 269 yards of offense and created three turnovers (the two Bedgood fumble recoveries and an interception by Brandon Benoist). The Farmers entered the game averaging more than 30 points per game. The Marauders' offense managed just 136 yards of total offense.
The Marauders (4-4, 3-2) will look to get back on track Friday when they travel to Plano (4-4, 3-2) to battle the Wildcats.
Through the first six games of an up-and-down 2022 season so far, Marcus Marauders junior quarterback Cole Welliver had thrown just six touchdown passes. Friday night against visiting Plano West, he threw five -- in the first half! It was a dizzying aerial display that gave a near-capacity Homecoming crowd plenty to cheer about and helped the Marauders soar to a 42-20 victory.
But things didn't start out so sky high for the Marauders (4-3, 3-1). They were forced to punt on the game's opening possession and fell behind, 7-0, when Plano West (1-6, 0-4) needed just five plays to travel 90 yards for a touchdown on its opening drive. By the time the Wolves scored again just before halftime, Marcus had crafted a commanding 35-13 lead on the strength of Welliver's right arm and a bevy of big-play receivers.
Welliver fired a touchdown strike of 49 yards to senior Ashton Cozart to tie the game, 7-7, with 7:08 left in the first quarter, and then he found junior Karic Grennan over the middle for a 36-yard catch-and-run score that put the Marauders ahead for good, 14-7, with just :20 remaining in the first quarter. It was Grennan's first-career touchdown. As for Welliver and the Marcus passing game, they were just getting started.
In a sublime, second-quarter outburst, Welliver connected with senior Isaac Khattab for touchdown strikes of 43, 35 and 23 yards, respectively, to cap a three-possession sequence that effectively put the game away before halftime. Jake Ballard's 7-yard run late in the third quarter extended Marcus' lead to 42-13 and Plano West tacked on a cosmetic score with just 2:29 left in the fourth quarter.
Welliver finished with 264 yards passing and the career-high five touchdown passes while Khattab caught four passes for 112 yards and his first three TDs of the season. The Marauders collected 438 yards of total offense, including 174 rushing; junior RB Ben Perlmutter paced Marcus on the ground with 77 yards rushing on 11 carries.
It's worth noting that just minutes before kickoff, senior OL Riley Letterman was crowned the 2022 Marcus High School Homecoming King, a regal start to a grand evening.
The much-needed victory should give the Marauders momentum heading into next week's Battle of the Axe clash with rival Lewisville (6-1, 4-0). The Marauders will be looking to win the Axe for the fourth straight season.
COPPELL, Texas -- An unexpectedly stiff northeastern breeze whipped through Coppell's Buddy Echols Field on Friday night. Going into that wind, as the Marcus Marauders did in the first quarter, proved to be difficult. Far more difficult for the Marauders on this night, however, were the Coppell Cowboys themselves.
A motivated Coppell team intent on ending Marcus' three-year winning streak started fast and, with the wind at its back, jumped out to a 21-0 first-quarter lead before ultimately sailing to a 38-14 victory. It was Marcus' first loss to the Cowboys since the 2018 season.
Coppell's early lead was built primarily with a wind-aided passing game. The Cowboys (5-1, 2-1) delivered touchdowns passes of 71, 29 and 23 yards on their first three possessions, all while Marcus' offense was forced to punt on four consecutive drives to start the game. The Marauders (3-3, 2-1) cut the lead to 21-7 early in the second quarter when Cole Welliver dimed a 27-yard touchdown pass to Ashton Cozart -- but they would get no closer.
Welliver's second touchdown pass of the night to Cozart, a 50-yard beauty just before halftime, sent the Marauders into the locker room with a 31-14 deficit. On the night, Cozart caught three passes for 122 yards and surpassed 1,000 career receiving yards as a Marauder. Welliver finished with 217 yards passing and the two touchdowns. A third touchdown pass (a 50-yarder to Isaac Khattab on fourth down in the third quarter) was nullified by an offensive holding penalty.
A late end-zone interception by senior safety Jake Ballard prevented another Coppell score.
Marcus will look to rebound Friday night when it plays host to Plano West (1-5, 0-3).
It probably seemed a bit old-fashioned by today's wide-open, air-it-out standards, but make no mistake: The Marcus Marauders' 30-21 victory over Flower Mound on Friday night was a throwback thing of beauty. And the recipe was quite simple. Run the rock. Control the clock. Win the turnover battle. Win the game. In the process, Marcus brought the Mound Showdown trophy back home for the 13th time in the rivalry's 23 games and for the third time in the last four matchups.
Marcus now leads the all-time series, 13-10.
Powered by Ben Perlmutter and Chance Banner, the Marauders (3-2, 2-0) delivered a decidedly deliberate gameplan that featured 48 runs and just 24 passes. Perlmutter recorded his first-career 100-yard game (21 carries, 110 yards) and scored two first-half touchdowns to help the Marauders take a 16-7 halftime lead. Banner, meanwhile, added 79 yards on 16 carries. The Marauders also got strong offensive contributions from two-way players Jake Ballard and Chance Sautter, who both recorded second-half touchdown runs. Ballard's put Marcus up, 23-14, in the third quarter, Sautter's made it 30-21 late. On the night, Marcus finished with 214 rushing yards, exactly twice as many as Flower Mound.
Junior tight end Aidan Grummer led all Marcus receivers with 58 yards on three receptions, including a clutch 25-yard grab on third-and-19 to set up Ballard's touchdown.
Senior CB Kole McKnight paced a ball-hawking defensive performance that accounted for four takeaways on the night. McKnight's two interceptions (including his second-consecutive game-clinching pick on the heels of last week's pick-six against Hebron) give him three in his last five quarters of play. Sautter and Ballard also recorded tide-turning interceptions. The Marcus defense allowed 256 total yards (but 154 of those came on just two plays).
Next week, the Marauders travel to Coppell to battle the Cowboys (4-1, 1-1).
CARROLLTON, Texas -- As far as district openers go, Friday's against Hebron wasn't always pretty for the Marcus Marauders. It was a night when the offense struggled to find a rhythm and Hebron gained more first downs, more total yards, more passing yards, more rushing yards and more touchdowns. It was also a night when a rugged and opportunistic defense, and flawless footwork from senior kicker Michael Petro, kept rising to the occasion for the Marauders.
Ultimately, though, it was a night when senior CB Kole McKnight made a dramatic fourth-quarter house call with his first interception of the season to put the game away for the Marauders. The 36-yard pick-six came with just 7:07 remaining, put Marcus up, 23-14, and derailed a surging second-half Hebron offense that had turned a 16-0 halftime deficit into a 16-14 nail-biter.
McKnight's big play prompted Marcus head coach Kevin Atkinson to call his game-clinching cornerback the "Homecoming King" after the game, a reference to McKnight and the Marauders spoiling Hebron's homecoming celebration for the second consecutive season. Senior Swiss Army Knife Chance Sautter delivered an inspired performance from start to finish in his most complete game of the season. He forced a fumble deep in Marcus territory on Hebron's game-opening drive, returned an interception 32 yards to set up a Petro field goal just before halftime, led all Marauders with 29 yards rushing on four carries and caught two passes for 11 yards.
And then there's Petro, who accounted for three first-half field goals (including a 48-yarder into the wind), booted both extra-point attempts and pinned Hebron inside its own 10-yard line twice with precision punts. Clearly, on a night when the Marcus offense needed them most, the defense and special teams units delivered in a big way.
Now, the Marauders (2-2, 1-0) regroup for next week's Mound Showdown against Flower Mound (0-4, 0-1).
In a surprise unveiling of sorts Friday night against Euless Trinity, the Marcus Marauders broke out their new Jordan Jumpman Red jerseys for the first time. They also broke out to a fast start and, ultimately, broke into the win column for the first time this season with a gritty 30-20 victory.
Marcus built a 10-0 first-quarter lead on the strength of kicker Michael Petro's right foot and running back Ben Perlmutter's legs. But Trinity controlled the second quarter with a methodical, plodding rushing attack that ate clock, drained momentum and sent the Trojans into halftime with a 13-10 lead. Clearly, though, the Marcus coaching staff made the right adjustments while both bands were performing during the intermission as Marcus outscored Trinity in the second half, 20-7.
A Brock Golwas interception in the third quarter furnished the Marauders' offense with a short field that led to Chance Banner's touchdown run and a 17-13 Marcus lead. One series later, Petro's second field goal of the game put Marcus ahead, 20-13, heading into the fourth quarter. Trinity responded with a grueling 15-play, 75-yard march to knot things back up, 20-20.
The final eight minutes of the game, however, belonged to the Marauders. They scored on two of their final three offensive possessions, including a thing-of-beauty, 36-yard TD pass from Cole Welliver to Ashton Cozart and Petro's clinching third field goal of the game that put Marcus up 10, 30-20, with just 45 seconds remaining.
Welliver finished the night with 225 yards passing and one touchdown while Cozart accounted for 65 yards receiving on five catches. Both Cozart and WR Isaac Khattab drew pivotal pass interference calls that led to Marcus points and Petro delivered a near-perfect performance as he went three-for-three on field goals, three-for-three on extra points and twice pinned Trinity inside its own 10-yard line with his punts.
The win sends Marcus into its open week on a high note. The team opens district play against Hebron on September 23.
On a night when Cole Welliver's 90-yard touchdown strike to Ashton Cozart provided a brief glimpse of just how explosive the Marcus Marauders' offense can be, it was a steady dose of excellence from state-ranked Southlake Carroll that made the biggest statement Friday. Carroll (No. 3 in the Dave Campbell's Texas Football AP poll) deployed a power running game, an opportunistic passing attack and staunch defense en route to a 38-7 victory.
Welliver's much-needed, quick-strike dime to Cozart came early in the second quarter and brought the Marauders to within a touchdown, 14-7. Marcus maneuvered deep into Carroll territory on multiple possessions before and after the long TD, but ultimately was unable to capitalize. The Dragons took a 21-7 lead into the halftime locker room and extended their lead to 35-7 following a statement-making 97-yard drive with 4:19 left in the third quarter.
Carroll collected 475 yards on the night, including more yards rushing (265) than Marcus had total yards (262). Yet, the Marauders delivered their share of highlights. Cozart (108) and fellow senior WR Isaac Khattab (101) both eclipsed 100 yards receiving and Welliver finished with 247 yards passing. On defense, senior DL Luke Shankel returned a Carroll fumble to the Dragon's 18-yard line on a play during which Marcus was flagged for two post-possession penalties that brought the ball back to its own 34-yard line.
The Marauders will look to secure their first victory of the season next week when they host Trinity, yet another area heavyweight.
DALLAS -- When you're playing one of the toughest non-district schedules in the state, there are no early-season gimmes. And so it is with the 2022 Marcus Marauders (ranked No. 11 in the Dallas News 6A Preseason rankings), who opened the season Friday night at No. 10 Highland Park with a 38-24 loss that was way more competitive than a two-touchdown deficit might suggest.
Marauders junior quarterback Cole Welliver was composed and confident in his first-career start, finishing with 310 yards passing and two touchdowns, including one to running back Chance Sautter to cap a brilliant two-minute-drill drive near the end of the first half that tied the score, 10-10. He found senior receiver Ashton Cozart late in the third quarter to bring Marcus to within seven, 24-17. One drive later, Welliver's deep connection to Mason Chavis set up RB Chance Banner's short TD run and a 24-24 tie early in the fourth quarter.
Highland Park regained the lead just one play later with a deep touchdown pass and then spent the rest of the game eating clock before ultimately adding the clincher with just 1:35 remaining.
The Marcus offense finished with 457 total yards (20 more than Highland Park) and four different running backs combined for 157 yards rushing, led by junior Ben Perlmutter's 68-yard night. Senior WR Isaac Khattab delivered a handful of big catches en route to a team-high 103 yards receiving; Phillip Ponds and Aidan Grummer combined for 10 receptions and 119 yards.
Next week, Marcus hosts Southlake Carroll, currently ranked No. 4 in the Dallas News 6A Area rankings.