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Marceline’s Bruner talks on uniquely challenging pre-season

Henry Janssen

Times have been rough for everyone. Things have been especially turbulent for the high school Class of 2020. The prospect of being an incoming college freshman is a dip into some uncharted waters.

Being an incoming collegiate athlete -- one who participates in the fall, no less -- is a swan dive.

Cullen Bruner’s life has remained largely unchanged. He works for the City of Marceline and camps on the weekends. Essentially, he does what any kid would do in the summer following his graduation.

But, as with all things right now, uncertainty looms.

Marceline’s Bruner reports to Benedictine to play NAIA football on August 14. Thus far, his summer workouts have been dictated via email and text message, and the running back, linebacker, and kicker does not yet know what position he will be playing.

“I keep in touch with my coaches when I can, and I’ve been working out by myself,” Bruner said. “The weirdest part is that obviously I don’t have any idea what a regular freshman pre-season would be like. I don’t really know what the normal summer would look like.”

He is anticipating a redshirt, and expecting to eventually take over full-time kicking duties.

Benedictine is entering its 41st season with Larry Wilcox as head coach. As a result, Bruner believes that the program is more prepared to brace the unexpected turbulence the world is experiencing than all others with less seasoned coaching staffs.

“I’ve made some good friends who I haven’t had a chance to meet yet, and I think they’re kind of in the same boat,” Bruner said. “As it stands right now, we’re taking emails about positioning and where we want to play. Most of these guys only played one way in high school, but a lot of us were two-way guys. It’s been tough to determine positioning based on what you think, or where you think you should play.

“Coaches can’t really guarantee anything based on old film.”

Bruner finished his senior season with 1886 yards rushing and added 392 yards receiving. He was also third on the team with 86 tackles.

Marceline finished its 12-2 2019 campaign with a state semifinal berth. Bruner broke his own school record by draining a 49-yard field goal.

“I think that my leg was probably the most attractive thing about me to the staff (at Benedictine),” Bruner said. “I racked up a lot of yards, but a ton of that credit is on play-calling and the guys up front, and I’m sure the people recruiting see that on tape.

“I’m just going to report in August and go wherever they tell me.”

Benedictine’s first two games of the season have been canceled, leaving the Ravens with just nine games on the docket and not beginning until Sept. 12 when they host Peru State.