By Randy Bruns
NEW BREMEN -- The Marion Local Flyers slipped and slopped their way to their seventh consecutive victory on Friday night with a 34-0 shutout over the New Bremen Cardinals.
Though the final score was a whitewash, nothing else on the field approached any shade of white, as a day-long rain turned the field into a quagmire. The Flyers proved themselves more than capable at the fine art of mudding, however, and they put the game out of reach after just two quarters of play.
The win improves Marion to 8-2 on the year -- incredibly, the first time a Flyer team has ever finished with that record. More importantly, it helps the Flyers to their seventh playoff qualification in their last eight seasons. Though the pairings won't be official until Sunday, it appears that Marion will head to Covington Friday to take on the Buccaneers, a team that Marion has defeated twice in postseason play in the past.
New Bremen winds up the season with a 2-8 mark.
Due to the sloppy conditions, both teams kept to the ground for the most part, and Marion's absolute control of the line of scrimmage proved to be the difference. After holding the Cardinals to a three-and-out on the game's opening possession, the Flyers went to a steady diet of Marc Otte for their first score. The senior tailback lugged the ball on seven of the Flyers' eight running plays, with the final carry a six-yard burst for a touchdown.
It was a pattern that kept on repeating itself, much to the chagrin of the home crowd at Cardinal Stadium.
Otte struck paydirt on the next three Flyer possessions -- from 14, 45, and eight yards out -- to help propel the visitors to a 27-0 advantage. Otte and some other regulars then got some rest, but the Flyer offense kept clicking. Backup quarterback Troy Prenger, subbing for a banged-up Chris Stucke, threw an eight-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Obringer for the Flyers' final score of the night.
Meanwhile, the Marion defense was at its stingiest in the mud, as New Bremen managed just 33 total yards in the game -- all of which came on 36 rushing attempts.
"We controlled the line of scrimmage tonight," said Marion coach Tim Goodwin. "Our defense has been very good against the run, and we felt like we had them out-gunned at the line of scrimmage. They just couldn't get anything going on the ground."
New Bremen coach Chad Williams agreed.
"We couldn't get anything going, in fact we didn't have a first down the first half," said Williams. "They're a little bigger up front than us, and we just couldn't move the ball on them."
Otte turned in his third straight game with huge stats, as he finished with 176 yards rushing on 22 totes, and all of them came in the first half.
Coach Goodwin and his staff are no strangers to playoff preparations, and as of now he feels like his team is on a nice roll.
"We're playing good football right now," said Goodwin. "We say it every year, but if we can make the playoffs we've got a good shot (at a state title). We're finally getting healthy and we feel like we've established an identity. We've got kids who understand their roles, and we feel good about how we're playing. But it's a humbling game -- you can feel good one week and feel like dirt the next."