ANDERSON — Homecoming is all about old friends joining back together in a common cause.
So it's fitting the Anderson football team will be at its healthiest point this season when it hosts Marion tonight.
Defensive lineman Kalil Wilson and star running back Jerian Beard — who missed the second half of Saturday's 49-7 demolition of New Castle — are among the players being welcomed back into the fold as the Indians (2-4, 1-2 North Central Conference) attempt to even their league record against the Giants (1-5, 0-3).
"This is probably the first week all year we've had almost everybody back," Anderson coach Randy Albano said.
The timing is good.
The Tribe has won two of its last three games and seems poised for another strong finish. Marion offers a unique challenge with a new head coach in Ryan Vermilion and athletes that might be able to match the Indians' speed.
The chief speed merchant is running back Will Collins, and Albano said Anderson will have to keep an eye on his every move.
"They're kinda young, and they're down in numbers," he said of the Giants overall. "But they have some good athletes."
Anderson has one of the most explosive backfield combinations in the state with Beard and junior speedster Tyler Welch. But the two have rarely been on the field together.
Beard suffered a leg injury after rushing for 99 yards near the end of the first half at New Castle. Welch didn't miss a step on his own in the second half, finishing with 235 yards and five scores.
Lining up both players in the backfield can put a burden on opposing defenses, and Albano is looking forward to trying it again tonight.
"I think we're gonna use 'em both," he said. "And we'll benefit one way or the other."