QB Chris Stuckey (6-0, 185, Sr. — 1,300 yards passing, 14 TD; 700 yards rushing, 9 TD), LB Luke Homan (6-0, 200, Sr. — 130 tackles, three-year starter), LB Greg Koesters (6-0, 185, Sr. — 138 tackles, three-year starter), RB/DE Ben Schaefer (6-0, 200, Sr. – D-VI title game MVP, three-year starter
2006 Record: 13-2; Division VI State Champions
One of two defending state champions in Division V, the Marion Local Flyers came into 2006 with big expectations and delivered in a major way. The team came together after a 1-2 start and did not lose the rest of the way.
“We had a strong senior class last year, and we had a good year in 2005 and had a lot of those kids coming back, especially our lineman types,” head coach Tim Goodman said. “We had high expectations, and to be honest with you we were very disappointed in week 2 and 3 against Coldwater and St. Henry that we didn’t compete because we really thought we should have been in those games. Eventually we righted the ship and the kids came around and started playing the type of football that we thought we could play all along and ended up having a great year.”
This year, things will be a little different for Marion Local. Four starters return on each side of the ball but the experience up front is gone, and the Flyers will be looking to regroup in those areas.
“It’s kind of like a 180 as far as being opposite from the strengths of last year,” Goodwin said. “Like I said, we graduated a lot of linemen last year. We were very deep up front on both sides of the ball last year. Now we’re going to be thin up front. I think our front-liners can be adequate or better, at least we’re hoping. We should be pretty deep at the skill positions this year. We’ve got our quarterback back for the third year – Chris Stuckey – he had a great year last year as a junior, and we’re looking for him to lead us.”
The team is also facing another unique challenge – moving up to Division V from Division VI. Goodwin expects that move to make earning a spot in the postseason much tougher.
“Obviously it’s new and exciting for us just to be placed with different teams,” Goodwin said. “It’s going to be difficult for us getting in. I know looking at our points last year, we were 8-2 and we would not have gotten in last year. The margin for error is very slim being in D-V playing our schedule. We’re hoping that we can get in, and we think it will be exciting playing different teams.”
Making things tougher is the fact that Marion Local is one of five teams from the same conference vying for a slot in Region 20, four of whom – Marion Local, Versailles, St. Henry, and Anna – are used to playing in the postseason and expect to be there.
“There are five MAC schools in our region including us, so if there was a region associated with our league, it’s going to be Region 20,” Goodwin said. “Before, we always thought we had an advantage playing our schedule, playing the other teams that hadn’t played the type of teams that we played. However, I’m not sure really how many of us can make the playoffs. I just don’t think the margin of error is that high, and I can’t see any more than two teams making it in. I’m not sure how many we’ll have to play in the playoffs; we have to beat them in the regular season.”
One thing Goodwin does not expect Marion Local to have to deal with much is extra motivation from teams looking to oust the defending state champion. The teams in Marion Local’s conference are accustomed to playing defending champions.
“I think for a lot of people it would but really for us, in our situation I don’t really think it means anything as far as being a target,” Goodwin said. “Our league is such an exceptional-type league that every year, we have one or sometimes the last few years we’ve had two defending state champions in our league. I think that kind of changes things for us. The rivalries are such down here that I don’t know that kids could get any more motivated.”
Goodwin does expect the title to help start the year off in a positive fashion.
“This is our third state championship and every year you end on such a high,” he said. “There are only six teams in the whole state that end with a win, and it just carries over. It carries over into your offseason, the kids are enthusiastic, you have good numbers, and I think you just start the year with a lot of momentum.”
The schedule, as it is for any Midwest Athletic Conference team, is very rugged. Goodwin has two games in particular in his sights that will serve as indicators for how the team will be.
“We open with Elida, which would be the first time we ever played them, at least in recent history – I don’t know about further back,” he said. “That’s the new non-league game opener for us, so they’re an unknown. Then we have nine league games. In Week 2 is Coldwater and Week 3 is St. Henry. From there on, there’s good and bad, but when you play Coldwater in Week 2, after that (we see) who can play and who can’t, and every year we make some changes after that and further down the line it helps us out.
“It’s going to be a strong league I think again this year. I think it’s going to be relatively year. I’m not sure if this is the year where we’re going to have multiple state titles or any state titles this year. I’m not really sure. But basically Coldwater in Week 2 tells us where we’re at, and then we go from there.”
What makes the MAC so tough? Goodwin gave some thoughts.
“It’s just the area that these kids grow up in,” he said. “There are strong families. It’s very traditional, kind of a throwback community. The schools are a focal point – it’s kind of where people direct their time, their energy and their price. The kids just grow up like that. There’s a lot of farmers and blue-collar workers, so everybody’s used to working hard. Now, it’s kind of an ongoing thing where you just kind of build off of what you’ve done in the past for all these teams. There’s a league pride here that I don’t see in a lot of places where people talk about how many league titles you have as opposed to individual schools, so it’s a neat place.”
Maria Stein Marion Local
|9/14/2007||@ Rockford Parkway||5|
|10/12/2007||@ Delphos St. John's||6|