Marion Local wins share of first MAC title since 2001; Flyers dampen Anna’s playoff hopes

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Marion Local 35, Anna 6
In a must-win game, Anna gambled on stopping Marion Local’s running game hoping Marion quarterback Chris Stucke would have an off night. Well, Stucke wasn’t exactly perfect. He did throw one incompletion. Stucke and the Flyers threw the Rockets for a loss, 35-6, in a Midwest Athletic Conference game at Booster Stadium on Friday as the Flyers clinched at least a share of the MAC title.


MARIA STEIN — In a must-win game, the Anna Rockets gambled on stopping Marion Local’s running game hoping Marion quarterback Chris Stucke would have an off night.

Well, Stucke wasn’t exactly perfect. He did throw one incompletion.

Stucke and the Flyers threw the Rockets for a loss, 35-6, in a Midwest Athletic Conference game at Booster Stadium on Friday. Stucke completed 11-of-12 passes for 154 yards and a touchdown as the Flyers clinched at least a share of the MAC title.

“This is a good conference. Any time you win it you’re doing something right,” senior lineman Alex Subler said of Marion’s first league title since 2001.

The Flyers — 9-0 and ranked No. 1 in the Division V state poll — are also one win away from their first undefeated regular season since 1971. That’s the same year Marion coach Tim Goodwin was born.

On Friday, Anna’s bid to upset Marion unraveled early. The Rockets fumbled on the game’s second play and Subler recovered on Anna’s 14-yard line. Three plays later, Marion’s Ben Schaefer scored the first of his four touchdowns (three rushing, one defensive) with the 5-yard run. Unofficially, Schaefer finished with 35 yards on 16 carries to lead the Flyers.

“That was our game plan, to make them one dimensional,” said Anna coach Bryan Rioch of the defensive game plan. “Not that we didn’t think (Stucke) wouldn’t make plays.”

On Marion’s second drive, Stucke hit Jason Wolters for a 12-yard touchdown with 2:54 left in the first quarter. All eleven of Stucke’s completions went for either first downs or touchdowns. His final pass of the game was batted down at the line of scrimmage.

“I told him on my way through the (postgame handshake) he’s got my vote for the player of the year in the league,” said Rioch.

Marion, No. 1 in Region 20, clinched a home-field playoff game as it attempts to win back-to-back state titles. The Flyers won D-VI last season.

“We’re hitting on all cylinders right now,” said lineman Mitch Schwieterman. “We feel like we’re doing pretty good on offense.”

That defense is holding its own, too. The Flyers, who have outscored opponents 386-69, gave up a second-quarter score to the Rockets on Wes Hunsucker’s 6-yard pass to Kreg Elsass. But they made up for it. Leading 21-6, linebacker Luke Homan broke through the middle and blocked an Anna punt. Schaefer scooped the ball up at Anna’s 40 and scored untouched with 1:24 before the half.

The defense also held Anna to 66 yards passing and pressured Hunsucker, who finished 12-of-25 passes for 137 yards and a TD.

“That was great. It definitely takes the pressure off the offense,” Marion senior lineman Lucas Moeller said of the defense.

Anna entered the game No. 7 in D-V, but dropped to ninth — currently one spot out of the postseason — after the loss. Anna plays winless Minster next week, so the Rockets need help.

“To be honest, we needed last week for the playoffs,” Rioch said of the Week 8 loss to Parkway. “Our best chance of winning the last two games (Parkway and Marion) was last week. But 7-3 in the MAC is not to shabby. I’ll take that.”

New Bremen (2-7) gets the last shot to end Marion’s regular-season success. The Cardinals will have to figure out a way to stop the balanced Flyers’ offense that rushed for 138 yards and threw for 154 more.

“(Anna) picked their poison,” Goodwin said of the Rockets’ loading up against the run. “That’s why we run this style of offense. We’d be nervous if we were chucking the ball 50 times a game and we’d be nervous if we were giving it to one kid 40 times a game. Not saying that’s bad. That’s just not the way we do it.”

There’s no arguing with the results.

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