Division V Region 20 final, 24-0, at Troy Memorial Stadiuim. It was the
fourth straight shutout and 25th consecutive win for the defending
(D-VI) state champions. The Flyers are on cruise control, baby. Next stop? A to-be-determined
location against Patrick Henry in a D-V state semifinal at 7:30 p.m.
The Flyers are on cruise control, baby. Next stop? A to-be-determined location against Patrick Henry in a D-V state semifinal at 7:30 p.m. next Friday.
No one has scored on the Flyers in the 2007 playoffs yet.
“Our defense has been playing lights out the last couple of weeks,” Marion Local head coach Tim Goodwin said in a masterpiece of understatement. “Really, it wasn’t easy. It may have looked easy, but we had a serious battle out there. West Jefferson is a nice team and it was a very physical game. We played for field position. We played our type of game.”
The Flyers took the opening kickoff and returned it to the Roughrider 35-yard line. 2:33 later, senior Chris Stucke hit Eric Heitcamp on a 8-yard touchdown pass to make the score 7-0.
Marion Local kicked off and on their second play from scrimmage, West Jefferson’s Andrew Pearson passed to Zach Williams for 23-yards and a first down. It would be the last first down the Roughriders would get until 8:20 of the third quarter.
Seriously. I swear I’m not making this stuff up. They only crossed midfield four times in the whole game. West Jefferson, a team that averaged nearly 40 points a game this year, would go three-and-out 10 times, six times in the first half.
In case no one has told you, Marion Local is a very good defensive team this season. To make things worse, they use a confusing variety of looks on defense, and it is nearly impossible to look at them before the snap and determine what base defense they are in.
“We run of out a 4-3 base set, but we do a lot of different things with that,” Goodwin said. “We like to bring the pressure with blitzes and stunts. We’re without a doubt an attacking defense.”
Even so, the Roughriders were playing respectable football. For the game they would allow the Flyers only 12 first downs. In fact with 1:41 left on the first half clock, they had the ball first-and-10 after a Marion Local punt trailing by only a touchdown.
Sadly, three plays later it was time to punt again, and after a 18 yard return and a 15 yard penalty for a late hit out of bounds, Dan Fortkamp was kicking a 24-yard field goal on the final play of the first half.
“We had that late hit in the first half and that obviously gave them three points,” West Jefferson head coach Shawn Buescher said. “At that point in the game that is a big swing, now it is a two score game. Plus you have the long kickoff return to start the game, and you’ve kind of given away ten points to a team that is obviously a very good football team.
“I think our defensive staff had a great plan in place. We felt very comfortable with what we were going to do on that side of the ball. We played with our backs to the wall all night and our kids played very well, but if you keep giving a team like that a short field they are going to get some points.”
Marion Local had 277 yards (158 rushing) of total offense. West Jefferson had 157.
Stucke threw for 121 yards and two touchdowns (on 8-for-21 passing). He added 70 rushing yards on 8 carries. Ben Smith had 19 yards on 10 carries. Ben Schaefer contributed 37 yards a touchdown on 12 carries. Marcus Moeller had two interceptions.
The versatile Pearson had 23 yards passing, 18 yards receiving, and 59 yards rushing (14 carries) for the Roughriders. Sophomore sensation DJ Mendenhall added 52 yards passing (7-for20) and 9 yards rushing.
It’s that time of year for us to reflect on our good fortune and to be thankful.
“It’s been a good year,” a rather composed Goodwin managed a smile. “Our goal has always been to be able to practice on Thanksgiving morning every season. We’ll be able to do that again this year, so it has been a good year for us.”
Marion Local has 78 players on their roster even though there are only 120 boys in the entire school. They have 72 seventh and eighth graders in their feeder system. That is how you build a championship caliber football program. It is no stretch to say that their entire community is involved.
That’s something for the Flyers to be thankful for.
Optimistic coach Buescher was quick to find a silver lining.
“We feel that we’ve been able to put together two very successful years. We’ve been 12-1 for two straight years now. We just want to make sure that we do everything that we can to get back to this point in the future. We hope that we have the kind of program now where we can just line up and continue to get better. Our next step now is to just to get back to this point and actually win a regional championship.”