Marion surges ahead with lopsided win Grove

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
Some habits are hard to break, but Marion coach Grant Thierolf hopes the habit Steven Boone has picked up the last couple games will last a while longer.

Boone, the Warriors’ 5-10, 205-pound senior running back, recorded his second straight 200-plus yard rushing game during Marion’s 48-7 pounding of Council Grove.

Boone racked up 215 yards on 22 carries and scored four touchdowns to spoil homecoming festivities for the Braves.

“We don’t try to do anything tricky,” Boone said. “We’ve always been a power running team and we like to run the ball up the middle.”

Boone gave special recognition to his line: Neil Waner, Tyson Heidebrecht, Jimmy Shipman, Tyler Smith and Dale Vogel.

“Our offensive line does their job and I do mine.”

Marion excelled in every aspect of its matchup with Council Grove, even winning the coin toss. The Warriors deferred their option to the second half, hoping to force an early Brave punt.

It worked. Council Grove gained just one yard in three downs.

The Warriors took over on their own 46-yard line, but soon faced a fourth-and-three on the Council Grove 47. Thierolf opted to try for the first down and the Warriors were successful, setting the tone for the rest of the night.

Clayton Chamberland eventually took the football into the end zone from two yards out to cap a nine-play drive. The extra-point attempt was unsuccessful, but Marion led 6-0 with 6:30 left.

After another Council Grove three-and-out, Marion took over on its own 31-yard line and called on Boone to carry the load. He responded with a burst through the middle for the final 35 yards, to cap a seven-play, 69-yard drive.

Marion was unsuccessful on its 2-point conversion, but led 12-0 with 2:18 left in the quarter.

Following the trend, Council Grove again punted without a first down and the Warriors had the ball on their own 23-yard line.

Boone picked up 27 yards, followed by Casey Nelson for 19. Boone finished off the final 31 yards on the first play of the second quarter. Chamberland hooked up with Josh Smith for the 2-point conversion to make the score 20-0 and the rout was on.

Council Grove finally picked up a first down with 11:03 left in the half, but two plays later Dale Vogel pounced on a Brave fumble to kill the drive.

Marion began its fourth drive with more diversity in its play selection. Four running plays mixed with a 23-yard Chamberland pass to Tyler Stubenhofer put the Warriors on the 8-yard line.

When Chamberland flipped a pass to Calvin Riggs for the touchdown, the Warriors led 27-0.

Council Grove actually threatened on its next possession when Neil Litke returned the kickoff 69 yards to the Warrior 11-yard line.

“We’re trying to give some of our young kids some varsity playing time on kickoffs,” Thierolf said. “Often times we’re in the right place, but we’re not making the tackle.”

Two plays later, Stubenhofer intercepted a Cody Stephenson pass in the end zone.

Marion was actually forced to punt on its next possession. But, as the night was going, Tyler Smith boomed the ball 61 yards to pin the Braves at their 29-yard line.

One play later, Riggs picked off another Stephenson pass at the 39. Four plays after that, Boone steamrolled the final 13 yards to increase the Warrior lead to 34-0 with 3:46 left in the half.

On Council Grove’s next possession, Riggs recovered a fumble on the 23-yard line. But a Chamberland pass into the end zone fell harmlessly to the turf and the half ended 34-0.

“I thought both our offense and defense played well in that first half,” Thierolf said. “We were just doing the same thing we’ve done all year long and our offensive line dominated things.”

A prime example: Boone’s 181 rushing yards in the first half.

“He’s a good running back and he just runs hard,” Thierolf said. “If you’re going to tackle him, you better be prepared to tackle him all night because he only gets stronger as the night goes on.”

As it did against Chase County a week earlier, Marion took the second-half kickoff and jammed it down the throat of the defense.

A 10-play, 67-yard drive ended when Chamberland carried the ball the final seven yards, and Marion owned a 41-0 lead.

The third quarter ended with the same score, and also ended the night’s work for the varsity. But the Warrior reserves kept up the pressure.

Quarterback Josh Kelsey engineered a 12-play drive, including 11 running plays in a row by Kelsey and Kyle Hett, that placed the ball on the 8-yard line.

Kelsey finished the drive by hitting David DeForest with a touchdown pass. Jeffrey Richmond added the extra point and Marion led 48-0 with 4:45 to play.

“I was very pleased with our junior varsity on that drive,” Thierolf said.

Council Grove averted a shutout on its next possession by driving 78 yards in eight plays, and scoring on a Tyler Sellers run of three yards with 1:32 to play in the game.

With the victory, Marion improved to 4-1 overall and 3-0 in the Cottonwood Valley League.

“I think we showed tonight we prepared well during this last week of practice,” Thierolf said. “I think we improved and that’s what you look for in a game like this.

“We’re not overconfident because we know we’ve already been beaten,” he added. “We can’t control the quality of our opponent. But we can control whether we’re improving as a team and that’s what we’re focusing on.”

Marion dominated statistically as well as on the scoreboard. The Warriors racked up 18 first downs to just three for the Braves.

As a team, Marion rushed for 371 yards and passed for 77 more, while holding Council Grove to just 149 yards total offense.

Chamberland was 5-for-11 for 69 yards, with Stubenhofer (2-23) and Riggs (2-22) his favorite targets.

Defensively, Tyler Smith had four tackles and four assists while Boone recorded three tackles and five assists.

Coming- The Warriors will take on Herington (0-3, 1-4) in a CVL matchup.

“They’re young and they’re not very large in either size or numbers,” Thierolf said. “But their coach has them playing hard.”

Herington suffered its third straight shutout last week against Sacred Heart, 28-0.

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