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Prep Notebook

He's still adding to his record of service

He's been on hand for six state football championships, one in baseball and one in basketball.

Since 1957, Tom Marier has been part of the Black Tornado tradition as an assistant coach in all three sports.

The 74-year-old Spokane, Wash., native was honored last Friday night at Spiegelberg Stadium during halftime of North Medford's football game against Roseburg.

Coaching keeps me young, Marier says. I like being around kids.

Marier was a head baseball and basketball coach at Prosser, Wash., for three years before joining the Medford faculty in 1957.

Marier was an assistant 26 of Fred Spiegelberg's 31 years, worked under Craig Hastin and Norm Musser and remains with Rod Rumrey, who has headed the Tornado program for 14 seasons. He was basketball coach Frank Roelandt's right-hand man for the better part of two decades and served under Mike Conklin, Bob Spani and Terry Gregg as well. He continues as official scorekeeper for North's boys basketball games.

He decided relatively early in his days at Medford that being an assistant suited him well.

I was much better suited as an assistant, taking orders rather than giving them, Marier says.

In his third year at Medford, baseball coach John Kovenz talked him into helping with the baseball team.

The timing couldn't have been better because baseball was the third jewel in Medford's magical triple-crown year. The Tornado defeated Jefferson, 7-6, for the 1959 state football title, beat Marshfield, 63-58, for the basketball crown and defeated Parkrose, 3-1, for the baseball championship the next spring.

Marier's right knee has been bothering him lately and may force him off the sidelines. But if it responds to treatment, he will likely continue coaching for a year or two more.

I don't want to have to hobble around, he says. But if the knee gets better, I'll stay around as long as Rumrey will have me.

WIRED (PERHAPS WEIRD) RANKINGS -- The Sagarin rankings have been part of the NCAA basketball and football scene long enough to be part of the bowl-season party mix and March Madness office pool armaments.

But applying Sagarin rankings to prep football in Oregon?

The best argument against it has been the rankings themselves appearing each week on the Oregon Live prep football Web page.

For starters, the Sagarin ratings list (as in tilt) to the leeward side of the Cascades. That nearly invalidates the whole thing right there. No Intermountain Conference team has won or played for a Class 4A state championship since 1984. Only two IMC teams have reached the semifinals since then and none in this decade.

Basically, what we are looking at is margin of victory and strength of competition, says Tim Scott of Oregon Live. It doesn't take into account less tangible things such as experience, coaches and how good teams in other leagues are.

In other words, beating a good team isn't nearly as helpful as whacking an also-ran.

That's why Grants Pass was No. — after marching past Crook County and Klamath Union by a collective 88-6, then fell out of favor by merely beating Ashland 14-6. Hermiston found itself No. — after winning two of its first three games. Redmond didn't give much resistance to the Bulldogs, after losing its top three quarterbacks and No. — tailback. Bend ascended to No. — last week when Mountain View hammered Hermiston, 44-7. Mountain View beat Bend, 21-6, Friday night.

Monday's ratings were the first to have something in common with the AP poll, although two IMC teams remained in the top 10.

Further, all four classifications, including eight-man, are thrown in together.

Including eight-man teams is like comparing apples and saltwater taffy. Mixing Class 4A, 3A and 2A together is tolerable because schedules, and thus common opponents, overlap. But come on, ranking defending Class 2A champion Amity No. 6 while ranking Roseburg No. 10, West Linn No. 11 and North Medford 28? Surely Amity is thankful it doesn't have to line up against the Tornado Friday night.

Last week, the ratings had Catlin Gabel, Chemawa, City Christian, Delphian, East Linn Christian, Milo Academy, Oregon Episcopal, Pacific, Portland Adventist, Western Mennonite and Westside Christian -- none of whom even field football teams -- the same 53.14 rating as Lost River.

It's not meant to be perfect, Scott says. I wouldn't say it's wholly accurate. It's meant to start discussions.

NON-LEAGUE RECORDS -- Midway through the season, the Midwestern League has compiled the best non-league record, going 4-1 against Southern Oregon and Intermountain teams.

The Pacific-8 is next best with a 10-6 mark, followed by the IMC, which is 11-7. The combined record of the schools beaten by IMC teams is 16-35.

The Metro and Three Rivers leagues are .500 in non-league, while the SOC (3-8), Mount Hood Conference (2-5) and Portland Interscholastic League (6-14) have struggled against non-league foes.

TRIPLE-ROUND ROBIN? -- SOC athletic directors will consider a proposal by Eagle Point to go to a triple-round robin for baseball and softball.

That would mean 21 conference games and five non-conference dates.

The Skyline Conference currently uses such a format for baseball and softball. Back in the early 1970s, when there were only six SOC schools, baseball and basketball teams played conference opponents four times.

Such a move would certainly put more importance on every game.

However, some schools prefer playing spring tournaments plus a variety of non-conference opponents.

SOFTER SOFTBALL? -- Softball batting averages and runs went sky-high last spring. So did the potential for injury with the Dudley balls with urethane centers. That's the same material many all-weather tracks are made of.

The ball flew off the bat so fast there was little time to react, so the OSAA will go with Dudley SB-12LRFP balls with cork centers next spring.

Southern Oregon Conference athletic directors will decide this week what balls they'll adopt for next spring.

HOLIDAY CLASSIC FIELD -- The lineup for this December's Holiday Basketball Classic at North and South Medford high schools is set.

Crook County, Glencoe of Hillsboro, McMinnville, McNary, North Bend and Sheldon of Eugene will be on hand for the three-day tournament.

(Greg Stiles is a Mail Tribune sports writer. He can be reached at 776-4483 or at — )