MARIA STEIN – When the Associated Press releases its first high school football state polls this week, Maria Stein Marion Local should be ranked No. 1 in Division V. If the Flyers aren’t check the pulses of those voting.
In a season where it appears parity is going to define the Midwest Athletic Conference, Marion Local appears ready to rule the conference race.
Just as surprising as Rockford Parkway’s 20-0 win over Delphos St. John’s and Fort Recovery’s 19-15 win over Minster on Friday was the Flyers domination of St. Henry in a match up of defending state champions. Marion Local scored touchdowns on each of its first four possessions en route to a 31-0 victory at Booster Field. Last year St. Henry beat Marion Local 31-0 on its way to the D-V state title.
Coupled with wins over Elida and Coldwater, the Flyers are 3-0 for the first time since 2000. Marion was the Division VI state champion last season but has since bumped up to D-V, Region 20.
That sigh was D-VI schools statewide.
“When you look at them on film they look seasoned, they look veteran, they look like a team with a bigger goal in mind,” St. Henry coach Jeff Starkey said. “And that’s how they played.”
“Last year they came right at us and this year we did just the same,” Marion senior quarterback Chris Stucke said. “It was reversed roles this year and it feels a lot better on the other side.”
Stucke shined. In the first half the three-year starter completed 7-of-10 passes for 112 yards and a touchdown and added two TDs and 33 yards on five carries. Stucke also had an interception on defense that set up Dan Fortkamp’s 26-yard field goal to end the first half.
“He’s a veteran guy and that’s how you expect a veteran guy to play,” Starkey said. “He’s a guy that’s taken a lot of snaps there and had a lot of success.”
Said Marion Local coach Tim Goodwin: “He’s a darn good quarterback.”
The Redskins (2-1) mustered no offense of their own. Held to 61 total yards, St. Henry had just 13 through three quarters. Field position and a lack of execution did in the Skins.
Of the game’s first 97 plays, 91 were snapped on St. Henry’s side of the 50.
St. Henry sophomore quarterback Brad Stahl finished 3-of-12 for 23 yards and two interceptions. He was sacked five times for minus-20 yards. To Stahl’s credit he seldom had time to throw and when he did get it off the Skins dropped more than they caught.
“Whenever we go against a young quarterback we want to get heat on them early,” Goodwin said. “Then they start feeling the heat even when it’s not there. You try to hit them early.”
“We’ve been inconsistent on offense,” Starkey said. “I think we have some guys that can do some things with the football but when you don’t have much time there’s not many plays you can run.”
St. Henry sophomore tailback Neil Schwieterman carried the ball 10 times for 11 yards. Senior Ben Schaefer had 41 yards and a TD on 12 carries for the Flyers.
A rematch is possible in the Region 20 playoffs – a place Marion seems destined to reach.
“We’ve had this game marked on the calendar since winter,” Stucke said. “We wanted to start fast and stick it to them right away. Coach said if we stuck it to them they’d buckle a little bit and they did.”
Added Starkey: “I thought there was an overall difference in aggressiveness. That was the biggest difference. They were much more physical.”