By Bruce Monnin
MARIA STEIN -- It was a battle between two good defenses Friday night at Booster Field in Maria Stein.
The Marion Local defense held Minster to just two first downs in the first three quarters, while the Minster defense turned back the Marion Local offense numerous times in Wildcat territory.
In the end, the Flyers were able to generate enough offense and came out ahead enough on special teams to control the field position battle and eventually pushed in two touchdowns for the 14-0 win.
"We played hard," explained Marion Local coach Tim Goodwin. "We've played good defense the last three weeks. Our defense was playing well so we didn't want to take too many chances in the second half."
"Obviously there was no offense tonight," admitted Minster coach Whit Parks. "We just couldn't get anything going. I said before the game the thing that concerned me most was how hard they played." The respective offenses looked as if they were going to have a good night to start the game.
The Flyers opened the game by driving 29 yards to the Minster 39-yard line before Zac Boeke intercepted a Chris Stucke pass.
The Wildcats responded by driving 27 yards on three plays to enter the Flyers' territory before fumbling the ball back to Marion Local. Little did Minster know it would only achieve one more first down until the fourth quarter.
Marion Local went to the air its next series. The combination of Stucke to Mitch Thobe succeeded for gains of 19 and 22 yards before they connected one more time for a 20-yard touchdown strike to take a 7-0 lead.
A 39-yard punt return by Thobe put the Flyers in Minster territory again but a penalty forced them into a punting situation. Three more times in the second quarter Marion Local entered Wildcat territory, but an interception by Mark Dues ended one threat, a failed fourth-down pass stopped another and a 38-yard field goal fell just short before halftime.
The third quarter was a continuation of the second. The Flyers held Minster to three plays and a punt and Curtis Moeller then broke away for 28 of his 119 yards on the game to get deep into Minster territory.
Eight plays later Marion Local's Dan Fortkamp tried a 31-yard field goal, which also fell just short.
With the offense struggling to score, the Flyers' defense stepped up. Moeller intercepted a Heitbrink pass and returned it 28 yards to the Minster three-yard line. Three plays later Moeller went over for the score to increase the Flyers' lead to 14-0.
Minster mounted a drive through the air in the middle of the fourth quarter. An 11-yard completion from Heitbrink to Tony Schmeissing was followed by a 16-yard Brian Mueller strike and a 28-yard Troy Parks reception.
But Thobe ended the threat by intercepting a pass deep in Flyers territory.
Minster had the ball twice more in Marion Local territory before the end of the game, but interceptions by Ryan Stucke and Chris Wenning sealed the Flyers' victory.
"You have to give Minster credit, they played hard the entire game," added Goodwin. "Hopefully our defense keeps getting better, and offensively we just have to stop shooting ourselves in the foot."
Marion Local, now 4-1, travels on Friday to take on the #1 ranked team in Division V, the 5-0 Versailles Tigers. Minster (2-3) hosts 0-5 New Bremen in an Oktoberfest special, also on Friday.