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Varner hired as Owls' hoops coach

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

(Photo)
Varner
The reins of the Marshall boys' basketball team will remain in the family next season.

The Marshall School Board on Tuesday chose Owls assistant coach Jason Varner to take over the program as head coach, replacing Cody Leonard -- who announced his resignation earlier in the spring to accept a job as head girls' coach at Monroe City, near his hometown of Hannibal.

Varner has been Leonard's right-hand man during his three-year tenure. It's the first head coaching position for the 1994 Malta Bend graduate.

"I'm excited," he admitted. "I like the group of kids we've got. I'm ready to go."

Although the Marshall team became progressively younger during the Leonard era, it's competitiveness has increased. From six wins in 2009, the year before the Leonard-Varner team took over -- the Owls gradually improved 9-18 last season and won a pair of tournament championships -- at Stover and Wellington-Napoleon.

Varner's hiring would appear to validate the direction the program is heading.

"It's made great strides," Varner said. "I like what we've been able to do in the last three years."

Working with an experienced coach like Leonard has been an invaluable learning experience for Varner.

"He's very organized," Varner noted, pointing to some key aspects of the job: "Talking to the kids, teaching the kids, how to break down film and schedule practice."

Marshall will lose only one senior -- forward Collin Porter -- from a squad which started two juniors, a sophomore and two freshmen by the end of last season.

"Good things are going to happen with this group," Varner predicted, adding that familiarity is a benefit. "They know what to expect out of me and I know what to expect from them."

Stylistically, the Owls shouldn't be much different under Varner.

"We're going to be defensive-minded, that's for sure."

Varner becomes the sixth head coach for the Marshall boys over a nine-year span, Leonard's term being the longest since Scott Harrold was released following the 2005 season. During that period, the Owls only reached the post-season once: under Mike Baker in '06.


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Marshall school district finally got the right man for the job. Well respected by his players and a man they want to work hard for.Now how about promoting big brother from 8th gr coach to assistant. what a coaching staff that would be. Just an idea. Congrats Jason!!

-- Posted by golfaddic on Thu, May 24, 2012, at 3:36 PM

Congrats Coach! A very well-deserved promotion! Looking forward to watching you continue to build on the foundation put down by you and Coach Leonard over the last three seasons! Want Marshall basketball fans to get excited and have the atmosphere that we had at the last home game last season against Moberly! ELECTRIC is the only way to describe it! Sent chills up and down my spine. Good group of talented kids coming back! Good luck Coach! Let's put Marshall Owls basketball back on top!

-- Posted by marshallhoops on Wed, May 23, 2012, at 5:57 PM

Congrats Jason!!!!!!

-- Posted by Gal66 on Wed, May 23, 2012, at 1:01 PM

Awesome, go get em Varner.

-- Posted by Tigers/Owls4Life96 on Wed, May 23, 2012, at 11:51 AM


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