‘Second’ Warrior team shows up to whip Bulldogs

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN ERIC CLARK
Marion’s game against Chase County Friday night was a tale of two teams.


The first team turned the ball over five times in the opening half and didn’t hit pay dirt. The other Marion team racked up 237 yards rushing and scored four touchdowns in the second half to tame the Bulldogs 27-7.


Early in the first quarter, Marion quarterback Jared Smith was picked off by a Chase County defender-the first of five interceptions Smith threw during the evening.


The turnover would eventually lead to a one-yard touchdown run by the Bulldogs. They added the point-after-touchdown kick and led the Warriors, 7-0.


By the end of the first half, Marion had turned the ball over four times, but only trailed Chase County by a touchdown.


After counseling his troops briefly during halftime, head coach Grant Thierolf and his Warriors came out with their guns blazing.


Jarvis Whiteman led the attack with a 19-yard touchdown run early in the third to tie the ball game at 7-7 after an Alex Saxonis extra point.


When Chase County fumbled the ensuing kickoff, Marion recovered deep in Bulldog territory. A few plays later, Whiteman darted over the goal line for a nine-yard touchdown.


Saxonis added the PAT and Marion was on top, 14-7.


The Warriors kept the momentum going into the fourth quarter.


Smith erased his first-half performance with a well-orchestrated drive in the final period, slipping into the end zone from three yards out to extend the Warrior lead.


Saxonis’ PAT sailed wide right and missed the goal post by inches, giving Marion a 20-7 lead.


At the 3:47 mark of the fourth, Braxton Skiles hauled in a 13-yard pass in the end zone from Smith to cap another impressive drive.


Saxonis kicked the extra point and the Warriors walked away with a CVL win.


The win was big, according to senior Braxton Skiles.


“We had to win because the CVL is in our hands,” Skiles said. “We just decided to turn it on.”


And the Warriors did turn it on, amassing 237 yards rushing for the game. Whiteman led the way with 116 yards on 19 carries.


After the game, Whiteman praised the play of his offensive line.


“They were the main part in the win,” Whiteman said. “They had the holes for me and I was just running through them.”


The Warrior defense also came up big Friday night, holding Chase County to 84 yards of total offense.


Andrew Brookens had another stellar performance, recording 14 tackles and eight assists.


Thierolf credited his defense with much of the Warriors’ success.


“Our defense, aside from one series, played pretty well,” Thierolf said. “It wasn’t coaching. The kids just decided to play.”


After the sudden surge in the second half, fans were wondering what Thierolf said at halftime.


“We didn’t say anything,” Thierolf said. “We kind of told the kids that it’s their game. If they wanted us screaming and yelling at them, they’re not going to get it.”


After a tough first half, Smith ended the night throwing for 66 yards and running for 55 more.


With the win, the Warriors (4-1) and Sacred Heart of Salina (5-0) are both undefeated in the Cottonwood Valley League and will play each other next week.

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