Saturday, November 11th, 2006
By Randy Bruns
Huge first half lifts Marion to easy win
TROY - The Marion Local Flyers continued their early-round playoff mastery Friday night with a dominating 49-20 victory over the Springfield Catholic Central Irish at Troy Memorial Field.
The Flyers moved their record to 10-2 on the year and advance to the regional final game for the sixth time since 1999 when coach Tim Goodwin took over the program. Marion Local's opponent will be the Mechanicsburg Indians (11-1), a team that gave the Flyers all they could handle earlier this year in a preseason scrimmage.
For the past few games, Marion had been relying on its physical offensive line to punch big holes in opposing defenses, but on this night it was its menacing defense that did the most damage.
At first, it looked like the Flyers' ground game would pick up where it left off last week, as nine straight rushes led to the game's first score. Marc Otte, who carried six times for 49 yards on the drive, bashed in from a yard out and Dan Fortkamp added the PAT kick for a 7-0 Flyer lead.
Things were about to get easier on offense, though, as the Marion defense began to wreak havoc on Central's next possession.
Defensive tackle Keith Seitz registered his first career interception when he snagged an errant screen pass and rumbled 28 yards down to the Central eight. The Flyers took full advantage, as Otte later plunged in from a yard out on fourth down to make the score 14-0.
The Irish tried to go to the air again on their next drive, but Kevin Schlarman laid a lick on quarterback Brendan Kelly, who coughed up the football. Josh Rosenbeck recovered the Kelly fumble at the Irish 13, and Otte then cashed in again from one yard out to put his team up by three scores.
The Flyers put up one more score in the first half, but this time it came mostly via the passing game. Chris Stucke hit three different receivers on the drive, with the last one a 27-yard missile that Dan Moeller hauled in and lugged into the end zone for a score that put Marion up 28-0 at the intermission.
When the second half started, the Flyers quickly went for the kill. Stucke hooked up with Otte on a screen pass that went for 50 yards down to the Irish one, and Luke Homan put the finishing touch on from there to make the score 35-0.
The Irish fought hard the rest of the way, though, and put up 20 second-half points despite being at a marked physical disadvantage.
"Did anybody see that train that we just got hit by?" queried Central coach Steve DeWitt after the game. "I heard the whistle but I didn't see the rest of it. Marion's well-coached, they've got good numbers and they've got strength. They do such an excellent job at so many things, and they're just so fundamentally sound."
Though the Flyers didn't have a terrible night rushing the ball, they had more trouble than usual, and Goodwin gave credit to the Irish for that.
"We thought they were a very good defensive team coming into the game," said Goodwin. "Their defense was put in some bad spots early and that allowed us to get ahead a little bit. We wanted to capitalize whenever we got in the red zone, because of all the tapes we had of them, teams didn't get in the red zone very often."
Otte once again crashed over the 150-yard mark, as the senior carried the ball 27 times for 155 yards and four scores.
Though Marion has defeated Mechanicsburg in the post-season three times in the past six years, Goodwin knows that this year's Indians squad will provide quite a test on Friday.
"They are a physical team and it's going to be a battle," said Goodwin. "It's going to take everything we've got, but for now we'll try to enjoy tonight's win for at least a couple minutes."
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Mostly cloudy, showers