A History of Marian Football

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Marian Football is one of the biggest traditions on campus today, but few people really know how it all got started.

Marian’s football team began back in 2006 under the coaching of Ted Karras Jr. The first year, the team did not play any games, they just learned the playbook and got in shape. The team’s first practice occurred off campus in 2007 and they played their games at Pike High School. That first year, the Knights won one of their eleven games. Their first year, the team went 1-10, only taking down Taylor University.

“The team was not well received by the community and was even doubted by other schools,” former player and now current coach, Brock Caraboa, said.

The Knights went nearly unnoticed during the early stages of the program. Within a decade, they won two national championships. Currently, when the Knights play, they do so in front of hundreds of alumni, faculty, students, and families. They have the support of their school and community. In 2012, the Knights became national champions. However, success begets pressure. Former player Garrett Isch remembers the feeling of being part of the team his first semester at Marian.

“It put a lot of pressure on you as a freshman because you were the new kid on the block that hadn’t earned anything.” Isch said. “I wanted to prove that I was worthy of playing for a national championship team.”

In 2015, the Knights won another national title. This time, under current coach, Mark Henninger. When Henninger took over he wanted to “take what was working for the team, but at the same time try to put his own spin in.” Since 2013, Henninger has grown the program by expanding staff, focusing on recruiting, and keeping players motivated. He has, however, kept the core of Marian football intact.

“The foundation is the same,” he said. “Being explosive on offense and being sound and physical on defense.”

Today’s current team began the season with back-to-back wins against St. Ambrose and Trinity University. Coach Caraboa states that this year’s team is hungry for success and the team is “tough to beat.” Former player, Jeff McClure, is one of the many alumni who keeps up with the team.

“Every year brings improvement,” he said. “So, to watch the program continue to grow and do such great things, it is cool to know you were at the foundation of building something so intricate.”

Marian Football changed the campus, its student body, the community and the players’ lives.

“The growth is remarkable,” Coach Henniger said. “But it didn’t happen by accident, it came from a supportive administration and access to great talent who want to add their story to the legacy that is Marian University Football.”