By Randy Bruns
MARIA STEIN -- The Coldwater Cavaliers put together an almost flawless first half of football Friday night, while the Marion Local Flyers had two quarters that they would rather forget.
Coldwater took a 20-0 lead into the half-time break and coasted to a 27-6 victory, their sixth straight over Marion.
The Cavaliers, 2-0 on the year and 1-0 in the Midwest Athletic Conference, scored on their first three drives, thanks in large part to the deadly accurate passing of Sam Slavik. The senior hit on seven of his first nine passes, including two for long yardage that set up a pair of scores.
Meanwhile the Flyers, 1-1 overall and 0-1 in the MAC, looked disorganized and flat on defense and simply couldn't keep tabs on all of Coldwater's weapons. Offensively, the hosts could not get their running game in gear, as they managed just 23 yards on the ground in the first half.
After holding Marion to a quick three-and-out on its first series, Coldwater put together a perfect opening drive to set the tone for the game. The visitors went 70 yards on 16 plays, as Slavik completed three passes for first downs and Tony Harlamert carried nine times on the drive. Slavik snuck in untouched on a fourth-down play from the one for the opening score. The two teams then traded turnovers, and the Cavalier defense went to work and forced another Flyer punt. This time the Cavs struck more quickly, as Slavik found Matt Hoyng wide open for a 34-yard strike that brought the ball to the Flyer one. One play later, Adam Homan barged in for the touchdown, and after the PAT kick sailed wide, the visitors held a 13-0 lead.
The Flyers were held again on their ensuing possession, and the offensive fireworks continued for the Orange and Black. Cory Klenke started things with a 20-yard run, and three plays later, Slavik hit Harlamert on a screen that went 39 yards to the Flyer three. Homan did the dirty work again from close range, and the Cavaliers were up 20-0.
Marion had a chance to notch a score before the half ended, but an apparent touchdown run was called back on a holding penalty and the Coldwater defense stiffened to keep the hosts out of the end zone.
The Flyers came out fired up in the third quarter and finally got their ground game going. Marc Otte ripped off a pair of long runs for first downs, but it took a three-yard plunge on fourth down from Ben Schaefer for Marion to finally dent the scoreboard.
But as quickly as the Flyers gained the momentum, the Cavaliers took it right back.
A long kickoff return to the 47 by Hoyng started things, and Slavik later hit Homan on a floater for 21 yards to the Flyer 20. Slavik then capped his stellar night by pinpointing a perfect pass to Ryan Geier in the corner of the end zone for the game's final score.
"We knew their running game was something we had to stop first," said Coldwater coach John Reed. "Then I was really proud of how we reacted when they went to the passing game. Our secondary really stepped up after the guys in the trenches had established themselves."
Reed pointed to the second-half score as the pivotal series in the game
"We came out and didn't get a good return and then had three bad plays and they took the momentum," said Reed. "When we came back and answered like we did, that was a tremendous drive. Sam Slavik really deserves a lot of credit for standing in there tonight and delivering the ball."
For his part, Marion coach Tim Goodwin was perplexed as to how his team got manhandled so quickly in the first half.
"Coldwater just came out and played great football right from the start," said Goodwin. "We had no answer and they had us on our heels, and we could never recover. It's very disappointing with our experienced offensive line that we couldn't get anything going on the ground. We looked very sharp all week in practice, so this was very surprising to me. We just had kids that didn't react well under pressure, and it's disappointing, because a lot ofthem are seniors."
After two weeks on the road, Coldwater returns home Friday to take on New Bremen, while Marion goes from the frying pan to the fire when it travels to St. Henry to take on the Redskins.