Timberline Skyview FOOTBALL07.JPG

Timberline running back Taylor Marcum (21) carries the ball around the outside of Skyview’s defense during a 5A state playoff game on Oct. 30, 2020, at Skyview.

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With the Timberline football team opening up its passing game this year, running back Taylor Marcum isn’t seeing a large number carriers early in the season.

He’s still able to find the end zone when he does.

Quarterback Wade Zenner and the Wolves’ passing offense has taken a lot of pressure off Marcum, who has also become a pass catching threat. But despite Timberline coach Ian Smart estimating the running back has gotten about 10 carries per game, he’s still scored three touchdowns in each of Timberline’s first two games.

And should he be needed to be called on later in the year, Marcum will not only be capable, but should have fresh legs, as well.

“When we needed him in the playoffs against Skyview in the playoffs (last season), he ran for 226 (yards),” Smart said. “So he has that capability, and if we say ‘hey, this is a must-go,’ I think we have nothing but trust in him. The nice part is we don’t have to say ‘hey we’re going to slam our head against the wall’ and hope that he can find it. We’re able to lighten the load for him and let him shine in the way he’s capable of.”

Marcum and the Wolves (2-0) will look to continue the hot start to the season tonight when they travel to Meridian (1-1) in the first 5A Southern Idaho Conference Foothills Division game for both teams. For the Wolves, it represents the first step in trying to get back to the state playoffs for a third straight season after going 0-9 in 2018, Marcum’s freshman season.

“For me it’s just an opportunity to make a statement,” Marcum said about the Wolves’ first divisional game. “Timberline has always been one of those underdog schools that makes things happen. So hopefully we can come out on top and just make a statement at the start of this year.”

In each of his first three years starting at running back, Marcum has certainly made a statement. As a sophomore, he ran for more than 1,100 yards as Timberline got into the playoffs and beat Post Falls in the first round for the first playoff win in program history.

Last season, despite playing with a broken wrist through much of the COVID-shortened season, he managed to put up 560 rushing yards. Now with his hand fully healed, Marcum has once again become a scoring threat for the Wolves, who are the only 11-man team in Idaho to score more than 45 points in each of their first two games of the season.

A big part of that is the 80-yard kickoff return and two rushing touchdowns in a 49-28 season-opening win against Borah, and three more rushing touchdowns in last week’s 48-15 win against Ridgevue. Those numbers could be even better, if not for penalties, as Smart says he’s had a few more touchdown runs called back.

“I think the reality for him is he’s going to be the target of most defenses,” Smart said. “I don’t think there’s a defensive coordinator in the state that’s going to go ‘well, we don’t have to plan for 21.’ He just has a skill set, he has speed, that if not accounted for, he’s going to make you pay pretty dearly. So I think everyone coming into the game knows they have to slow him down if they want a chance.”

It’s not only his speed that makes Marcum — a 100-meter state placer during the track and field season in the spring — stand out. It’s also his toughness and willingness to get back on the field as soon as possible.

The broken wrist he suffered last season? It happened in the second game of the year while stiff-arming a Boise defender. Unaware something was seriously wrong until a couple days later when the pain kept getting worse, Marcum finished that game. Then after a bye-week, Marcum was back in the lineup against Capital, with his left hand in a bulky cast. Shortly after the season ended, he went in to have surgery on the wrist.

“My mindset was to go into it and see what happens,” Marcum said about playing through the injury. “Give it my all and see if it works or not. They gave me a pretty special cast that I was really thankful for. I was able to go all out and not have any pain with it.”

Over the summer he was given a scholarship offer by Montana State. About a month later, he committed to the Bobcats over an offer from the University of Idaho.

Getting his college decision out of the way before his senior season started was important to Marcum, who said he didn’t want to play with the stress of a decision looming over him. With that out of the way, he is able to focus on the senior season and he hopes will help Timberline continue the upward trajectory it has been on the last couple of seasons.

“For me and my friends, I want to just leave it all out there,” Marcum said. “I’m blessed to have an opportunity to play at the next level, but most of my guys out there won’t have that chance. So, together, we just want to leave it all out there and be a part of the legacy of making that tradition at Timberline.”

John Wustrow is the assistant sports editor of the Idaho Press. He is a Michigan native and a graduate of Indiana University.

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