Saturday, December 2nd, 2006
Flyers sky high after winnning state title
Marion Local wins third state crown in the last seven years
By Gary R. Rasberry
Marion Local football players hoist up the Division VI state championship trophy. . .
CANTON - After 24 minutes of scoreless action, Marion Local looked to make an impact as it got the ball to start the second half.
Not only was it an impact-making opening drive, it was the game-winning drive.
The Flyers used over half of the third quarter on the opening drive of the second half to score their first touchdown of the game. That score, and a stifling defense, was all the Flyers needed to capture their third Division VI state football championship since 2000 with a 17-0 win over Shadyside at Fawcett Stadium in Canton.
The Flyers end the season with 12 straight wins to wrap up the year 13-2 while the Tigers, making their first trip to the state final, ends the
season at 11-3.
Both teams did a great job at clamping down on each other for the first two quarters of play on the defensive side of the ball, as neither team could sustain a drive.
"It was a hard-fought game," said Marion Local coach Tim Goodwin. "The first quarter we had a couple of chances to take advantage of
field position and the wind and we didn't. That was a little disappointing. Shadyside played good defense. I was a little surprised we couldn't establish a better running game, to be honest. That's a credit to their kids and their coaching staff. They were guessing well out there."
"We dug ourselves a hole in the first half," said Shadyside coach Ty
Fleming. "The kids were able to persevere and keep them out of the end zone. We just weren't able to do much offensively."
The scoreless struggled changed as the Flyers got the ball to start the second half. Starting from its own 35, Marion kept the ball on the ground.
Ben Schaefer, who took over for an injured Marc Otte (the starting running back) after Otte came off the field following three rushes, started to find the holes opened by a surging Flyers offensive line.
The junior showed a burst while coming up with the biggest gain for Marion on a first-and-10 from the Tiger 41 when he broke through and picked up 18 yards.
Things looked bogged down when the Flyers faced fourth-and-one from the Tiger 14 with the strong wind making a field goal a likely adventure. Instead the Flyers went for it on fourth down and Chris Stucke called for a dive to Schaefer, who picked up three yards for the first down to keep the drive alive.
Schaefer and Stucke took the next two carries down to the one, where Luke Homan dove in for the first score of the game. Dan Fortkamp's PAT made it 7-0 in favor of the Flyers.
"We got the ball and the wind in the third quarter," said Goodwin. "We knew right then that was the game for us. We knew we had to do
something. We talked to the kids at halftime. It seemed like every time we tried to run outside, they outnumbered us, Basically, the second half, we went double tight (two tight ends) and our quarterback called all the plays in the second half."
"Marion came out and controlled the line of scrimmage in the third quarter," said Fleming. "They took it down the field."
The Marion defense continued to control the game as on the next three Shadyside possessions, the Tigers had a total of negative two yards on offense. Shadyside quarterback Billy Merryman was 0-for-6 passing during the stretch.
The best chance for the Tigers to score in the contest came when tailback Taylor Jovicic tried a halfback pass to Jason Albright, who had the ball in his hands, but could not hold on to what could have been a scoring play.
The second Flyer score came after another Shadyside four-and-out possession.
On the Flyers' first play of the drive, Stucke called a play-action pass, faking the handoff to Schaefer and throwing deep. Dan Moeller got behind his defender and made the catch, trotting into the end zone on a 58-yard touchdown to make it 14-0 after Fortkamp's second PAT.
"(Marion's) defense stepped up and took us out," said Fleming. "Tim
called a good play-action pass to put them up 14. We just couldn't
move the ball to keep the defense off the field."
Goodwin said the play-call came from one of his assistant coaches.
"I don't know who it was, but it was either (assistant coaches) Dan
Koenig or Bill Elking that suggested that play," said Goodwin. "It was a
good time to run it. Great pass and good route."
Fortkamp also added a 23-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to
round out the scoring in the Flyers' 17-point victory.
Shadyside could not find a way to advance the ball as the team that
scored 189 points in its four playoff games prior to the state title matchup managed just 52 yards of offensive in the game, including just 14 rushing yards.
"For the third straight game, we were able to not make the mistakes,"
said Goodwin. "I don't know how many penalties we had (three for 15
yards), but not very many and we didn't turn the ball over.
"We pounded on them a bit, but the big play was the pass from Chris
to Dan. That really took some wind out of their sails," pointed out Goodwin.
Schaefer, who had just 129 yards of rushing coming into the game, had
an even 100 yards on 22 carries,
"Ben's a good running back," said Goodwin. "We thought he would be a
bigger part of the offense than what he turned out to be. We had a
package where Marc and Ben were back (in the backfield). ... Ben will
be our tailback next year. We're expecting great things from him."
Stucke completed just two passes in six attempts, but got 61 yards
and a touchdown out of that.
Jovicic, who had nearly 1,600 yards rushing coming into the game, was
held to just 36 yards on the ground.