Marion defeats Moundridge, 36-26, in season opener

Chase Stringer
Chase Stringer
The Marion football team kicked off the 2017 season with a 36-26 victory at Moundridge Friday.

But although it will be recorded as a win in the record book, the Warriors’ performance on the field left coach Grant Thierolf seeking improvement.

The game included flashes of brilliance, as when Zachary Stuchlik intercepted a Wildcat pass two plays into the game and hauled in a second interception early in the second quarter.

The Warriors found success in the running game—packing a one-two punch with Jack Schneider and Corbin Wheeler in the backfield and Chase Stringer taking snaps under center.

The Warriors scored five touchdowns, but struggled at times defensively, giving up four touchdowns to an experienced Wildcat squad that hung around and kept themselves in the game. The Warriors sustained a loss, too, when offensive lineman and linebacker Tyler Palic exited the game early with an apparent injury, which Moundridge used to its advantage.

Marion led for the duration, though, building a 14-6 lead by the end of the first quarter. The Warriors needed just four plays to score after Stuchlik’s first interception. Wheeler punched in a 2-yard touchdown run, and Schneider added the two-point conversion for an 8-0 Warrior lead.

Moundridge answered with a seven-play, 65-yard scoring drive but missed the extra-point kick, leaving Marion with an 8-6 advantage.

Wheeler then capped a five-play, 56-yard drive with a 7-yard touchdown run. Marion’s 14-6 margin held through the first break.

Marion was unable to capitalize on Stuchlik’s second interception, and after a Warrior punt, Moundridge capped a six-play drive with a 17-yard touchdown pass to close within 14-12.

Stringer connected with Garrett Hoffner on the second play of Marion’s ensuing drive for a 38-yard pass completion, and, four plays later, Stringer crossed the goal line for a 1-yard score. Wheeler’s run made it 22-12 with 1:47 left in the half, which became the halftime score.

Wheeler rushed for a 35-yard gain on the first play of the second half, and Schneider capped the eight-play, 67-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run, increasing Marion’s lead, 28-12.

Moundridge’s next drive spanned nearly seven minutes, as the Wildcats methodically covered 82 yards and scored to close the gap to 28-18, a score which held through the end of the third quarter.

Wheeler capped a drive laden with penalties with a 4-yard touchdown run to increase Marion’s lead to 36-18, but Moundridge answered on its ensuing drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass on fourth down. The two-point conversion pass brought it to the final, 10-point spread with 7:24 left in the game.

The Wildcats recovered an onside kick attempt, but Marion forced a turnover on downs, only to fumble the ball back to the Wildcats two plays later. Marion’s defense held, allowing the Warriors to run out the final 54 seconds.

Coming—Marion (1-0) will host Inman Friday.

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