The Marion football team qualified for playoff action Thursday, as the Warriors dismantled Moundridge on the road, 41-6, to finish district play.
Marion, 4-5 for the season, was scheduled to face undefeated Garden Plain (9-0) in bi-district play.
“I was pleased that we just came out and did what we needed to do at Moundridge,” coach Grant Thierolf said. “We played pretty well, gave up some yards but no big plays.”
The Warriors looked solid on most fronts, taking care of business on both sides of the ball.
A key factor in the game was quarterback Zac Robson making some big plays for Marion.
Robson took over from Taylor Heidebrecht during last week’s game against Hillsboro after Heidebrecht was sidelined with a broken collarbone. But Robson struggled in that game to adjust to the role.
His performance Thursday showed few signs of youth or inexperience. Robson scored two rushing touchdowns and threw for another score to lead his team to the 35-point victory.
“Zac played much more relaxed and did a very good job of running the offense,” Thierolf said. “He will start for us at Garden Plain.”
After picking up the first touchdown of the game halfway through the first quarter on a nine-yard scramble from running back Caleb Williams, Marion proceeded to shut out the Wildcats and pack on the points.
Robson scored on a keeper with 1:08 on the clock to make it 13-0, before adding another rushing touchdown with just under five minutes left in the half. A failed two-point attempt resulted in a 19-0 score.
But Marion wasn’t quite done. Defensive back Brody Carroll scooped up a Moundridge fumble on the Wildcat 39 and ran it back for a touchdown. Marion led, 27-0, at the end of the first half.
The Warriors flipped on cruise control in the second half, moving the ball quickly downfield with a long pass to wide receiver Jacob Harper. Robson found Harper once more near the goal line for a 34-0 lead near the nine-minute mark after the PAT kick from Grif Case.
Carroll scored once more on a diving touchdown with just moments left in the third quarter, making a 41-0 score after the Case kick.
Meanwhile, the defense continued to shut down the Moundridge offense. The Wildcats finally put points on the board midway through the final period with a pass reception by Hunter Engardt in the end zone.
Carroll set the pace on the ground with 13 carries for 108 yards and a touchdown, followed by Robson with 83 yards and two scores on nine carries, Williams 62 yards and a score on six carries, and James Jones 60 yards on five attempts.
Robson had three completions for 68 yards and a touchdown. Two completions went to Harper for 46 yards and a touchdown and one to Jones for 22 yards.
“We had good distribution on offense,” Thierolf said. “That is good offensive production for an option team.”
Coming—Marion will face a challenge against Garden Plain Tuesday to begin the post-season.
“Garden Plain is a very good football team and we will have to play our best game of the season against them,” Marion coach Grant Thierolf said. “They do what they do and challenge you to stop it.
“We must be gap sound on our defensive front and we must stay on blocks as an offense. We must be able to move the ball offensively and stop the run on defense if we want to play into the play-offs.”
Kickoff against Garden Plain was slated for 6 p.m.
If the Warriors get past the Owls, they would play the winner of Conway Springs (8-1) and Wichita Independent (6-3) Saturday at a site and time to be determined.