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In the week of practice before Cato-Meridian High School’s game against Skaneateles, linebacker Marcus Turo’s coaches told him not to blitz. The opposing quarterback was mobile, and the Blue Devils’ coaching staff didn’t want Turo rushing the passer if he wasn’t going to get there in time.
On game day, though, Turo blitzed anyway.
It was a third and short — specifically when coaches told him not to blitz — and he instinctively rushed quarterback James Musso and took him down for a sack. The opposing coaches “were going crazy,” Turo said, and C-M pulled off an upset 40-0 win in Skaneateles. The win meant the Blue Devils would have better seeding in the Section III Class C playoff, and it served as the Lakers’ first loss in almost a year.
As a middle linebacker, Turo led Cato-Meridian in tackles during the 2019 season, helping the Blue Devils give up 9.5 points per game. He was one of four Class C linebackers named to the All-State team and spearheaded the Blue Devils’ undefeated 2019 regular season, which included the program’s first sectional championship game appearance since 2010. Now a senior, Turo plays both linebacker and running back, where he finished with the team’s second-most rushing yards. He’s an all-around threat, Kevin Aukema said.
When Turo transferred to C-M during his junior year at Mexico High School in Mexico, New York, coaches moved him from safety to middle linebacker. That shift was in part due to his quickness, which stood out to defensive coordinator Aukema. He was one of the team’s fastest players, a crucial skill for middle linebackers, Aukema said. As he played more snaps at the position, his development started to show.
“He started seeing things, not only looking at the running back but also having an eye on the guards as well, and he trusted his responsibilities,” Aukema said.
He initially struggled with the transition, but seeing the other middle linebacker — who was smaller than Turo — motivated him.
“If he could do it, I could do it,” Turo said.
After transferring, Turo didn’t know whether the Blue Devils program would further his on-field development. He wasn’t certain C-M’s team was better than his previous school’s team.
But two dominant victories against Herkimer and Port Byron high schools changed his mind. He felt like the coaches were more committed, and he enjoyed being part of a program that won by large margins. At Mexico HS, Turo’s team rarely won.
“We all just wanted to make plays, everyone wanted to contribute and dominate,” Turo said C-M.
Turo and C-M’s defense led the Blue Devils to the 2019 championship game, but they fell flat, losing 41-6 against Lowville in the Carrier Dome. For the first time that season, the opposing quarterback proved too much for Turo.
“Their quarterback was pretty insane. He was huge, he was fast, and he was very hard to tackle,” Turo said. “He definitely gave us the most problems.”
The loss was frustrating because it was like the defense played scared, and the ball “would fly right over our heads so many times,” Turo said. Though COVID-19 canceled C-M’s 2020 season, Turo is still unsure whether he’ll play collegiate level football. That championship game was an opportunity for the All-State linebacker to grow.
“We need to be less afraid and realize any team can be beaten,” Turo said.
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