Ron Rigdon photo
By Russell Korando
A year ago, Hillsboro junior Josef Marschuetz finished sixth in the 400-meter race at the Class 4 District 1 track meet, failing to qualify for sectionals by about two seconds.
Marschuetz was literally just getting his feet back under himself after suffering a severe leg injury and enduring months of painful, solitary rehabilitation. This spring, he vowed he would cut down his time in the 400 and reach the state championships.
Cut down, indeed.
Saturday at Hillsboro, Marschuetz covered the single-lapper four seconds faster (50.46 seconds) to finish third in the Class 4 Sectional 1 championships. The top four finishers in each sectional event qualified for the Missouri State High School Activities Association meet in Jefferson City Friday and Saturday.
Marschuetz will be there with his Hawk teammates, something that seemed highly unlikely in the fall of 2015 when he broke his thigh bone about six inches above the knee making a tackle as a linebacker for Hillsboro football.
“The quarterback scrambled (and) I ran him down, but one of our other linebackers came through and undercut me and it snapped,” Marschuetz said. “My leg was at about a 45-degree angle.”
After his surgery, doctors said he might not ever walk normally again. He will walk – and run – the rest of his life with a femoral pin from his hip to his knee.
He said the hardest part was doing his rehab alone for days, weeks, months.
“We have a weight room in our basement at home,” Marschuetz said. “When I was in a wheelchair, I would slide down the steps on (my backside). It was very difficult; the long hours by myself. I had to do it though.”
The thought of not being able to play football, for which Marschuetz hopes to receive a college scholarship, just added to his desire to get back in the game, which he did last fall. He said he’s squatting 450 pounds right now, a pretty good sign his leg is as strong as ever.
“I always had that confidence,” he said. “When I was told I might not walk right, that just poured gas on the fire.”
Marschuetz can play outside linebacker, defensive end or tight end for the Hawks, who had a dynamic offense last year when they finished 9-3, won the Mississippi Area Football Conference (Red) and reached the Class 4 District 1 championship game.
In the district semifinals, running back Micheal Keller scored seven touchdowns and the Hawks crushed Sikeston 72-46.
A week later in the district final against Cape Girardeau Central, Keller, Marschuetz and star wideout Isaiah Martin all were sick or injured and either didn’t play or were extremely limited. The result was a 63-24 pasting by the Tigers.
“I was out with mono, Keller was banged up, and we were missing our freaky good wide receiver (Martin),” Marschuetz said.
The Hawks return their quarterback (Tyler Isaacson), Keller, Martin and another productive ball carrier in Luke Skaggs.
What Hillsboro won’t have is any returning offensive linemen after all five graduated this month. Not to worry, Marschuetz said.
“We’ve got a lot of depth there,” he said of the new crop of bulldozers. “People are saying bad things. Our whole offensive line will be squatting 400 pounds again. We had elite guys last year, but this year we’ll be just fine.”
Marschuetz tried to qualify for state in the 200 as well but finished fifth in 23.16, just a tenth of a second off the fourth and final spot.
While Martin is the Hawks’ certified track star, Marschuetz said he doesn’t mind running in his shadow. He’s just happy to be running full speed again. Go, Joe, go.