Saturday, October 15th, 2011
By Randy Bruns
Flyers all alone on top of MAC
Marion Local's defense shuts out Coldwater, 7-0
  MARIA STEIN - With the Midwest Athletic Conference title on the line, the Marion Local Flyers' defense took the old "bend but don't break" philosophy to the next level.
The Flyers' defenders spent most of the night with their backs brushing up against their own end zone, but never yielded a single point in white-washing the Coldwater Cavaliers 7-0.
The win gives Marion sole possession of first place in the MAC with a 6-0 conference mark (7-1 overall). Coldwater falls out of a tie for the top spot in the league standings and now stands at 5-1 in league play (6-2 overall).
The Marion defense stood tall all night long, but never more so than in the first half, when Coldwater made four forays into Flyers' territory with three of them ending inside the home teams' 20-yard line.
"We just hung in there and kept playing," explained Marion's coach Tim Goodwin. "We just made the plays when we had to when typically we're used to seeing Coldwater make those types of plays. It was kind of a refreshing change."
After stonewalling the Cavaliers on downs early in the game, the Flyers made the first of two big stops on the visitors' second trip to the red zone.
A short punt gave the Cavaliers prime field position at the Flyers' 23, and soon the visitors were knocking at the door on the one-yard line. A pair of runs were stuffed for negative yardage and a pass fell incomplete, so Coldwater's Troy Otten came out to try a 22-yard field goal. A stiff western wind blew the kick wide left to preserve the scoreless tie.
The next stop by the Flyers was the biggest of the night, as Coldwater blocked a Marion punt and took possession at the hosts' 32-yard line. Five plays later, the Cavaliers had a first-and-goal from the 10-yard line and it looked grim for Marion. Austin Bruns then hit Aaron Mestemaker across the middle for what looked to be a sure touchdown, but the Flyers stripped the ball as Mestemaker reached over the goal line and recovered the fumble at their own one-yard line.
"We had the ball on the one and fumble the snap, then we hit a pass and fumble at the one," lamented Coldwater's coach Chip Otten. "We've got to score when we get down there."
For as good as the Flyers' defense was early on, the offense was nowhere to be seen thanks to a stingy Cavaliers' defense that yielded only one first down in the first half. In the second half, though, the hosts began to click.
Dylan Thobe made a tough catch for a 26-yard gain into Coldwater territory and Trevor Homan followed with his first carry of the year, a 20-yarder that brought the ball down to the 11. Three runs netted just eight yards, though, and the Flyers opted to try a 20-yard field goal, but Lee Pierron's effort sailed just wide to the left.
An interception by Mitch Kremer quickly gave the ball back to the hosts, and this time they found paydirt. Jake Heitkamp took an option pitch and sprinted 28 yards to the Coldwater six-yard line, and two plays later Adam Bertke scored on a four-yard QB keeper.
The Flyers had the lead, but the drama was far from over, as the Cavaliers got a couple more cracks on offense. Fittingly, both attempts ended on turnovers, as a fumble short-circuited the first drive at the Flyers' 25 and the second was thwarted when Lee Pierron made a sensational leaping interception in the end zone.
"That interception down in the corner (by Pierron) was one of the biggest plays that I've seen on this field," said Goodwin, who has seen a few in his 13 years at the helm of the Flyers. "That was a heck of a play."
Lost in the result was a tremendous defense effort by the Cavaliers, who held the Flyers to just seven first downs all night.
"They're a good defensive team and we had some communication problems where not all 11 guys were running the same play," stated Goodwin. "You've got to have all 11 guys doing the same thing against that defense or it's not going to be very pretty, which it wasn't."
Marion gets a chance to earn its first league title in four years next Saturday when it travels to Delphos to face the St. John's Blue Jays, who currently occupy second place in the MAC alongside Coldwater. The Cavaliers will return home to face winless New Bremen on Friday night.
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