It may have been messy at times, but the Marion football team got the job done Friday, defeating the visiting Ell-Saline Cardinals, 35-6.
?We made enough mistakes tonight to last a whole season,? coach Grant Thierolf said. ?It?s good to get away with a win.?
Thierolf is confident his team will continue to improve.
?We weren?t clicking on all sides?and that?s going to happen in our first game of the year when the other team?s playing faster than what your scout team is playing,? he said. ?But I have no doubt that we?ll get better as the season goes on.?
The Warriors displayed solid defense and produced enough plays on offense to earn the win.
?I think you?ve got to be pleased with our defense because we didn?t give up a ton of yards,? Thierolf said. ?We were very sporadic offensively, I thought.
?We had some good series where it looked like we were going to be able to move the ball consistently?and at times we did. But I was obviously pleased with the passing game. It was nice to be able to get big plays.?
Marion struck first, orchestrating a six-play, 83-yard scoring drive capped by a 47-yard touchdown pass from Taylor Heidebrecht to Grif Case.
Case kicked the extra point to give Marion a 7-0 lead with 1:48 left in the first quarter.
With 6:18 left in the half, Marion put together another scoring drive, this time covering 66 yards in two plays.
The 40-second drive was highlighted by a 60-yard touchdown pass from Heide?brecht to James Jones. Case?s kick gave Marion a 14-0 lead.
When the Warriors got the ball back with 2:56 left in the half, the ensuing drive was burdened with penalties, but the Warriors found a way to score when Heide?brecht connected with Case for a 19-yard touchdown pass. The kick fell incomplete after the Warriors were backed up with another penalty, but Marion took a 20-0 lead into the locker room at the half.
Neither team showed a strong start after the break. Ell-Saline got the ball first, and while Marion forced a three-and-out, a Warrior fumble on the punt gave the Cardinals a fresh set of downs at the Marion 36-yard line.
A few plays later, Marion recovered a fumbled snap at its own 38-yard line, only to have Heidebrecht lose a fumble three plays later.
That set up Ell-Saline?s first and only scoring drive of the night: a six-play, 38-yard march. The extra-point attempt failed, making the score 20-6 with 5:14 left in the third quarter.
Marion then answered with another score when Heidebrecht crossed the goal line on a 51-yard run, then tacked on the 2-point conversion to boost the lead to 28-6 at the 3:52 mark.
?After (Ell-Saline) scored the touchdown, we came right back in about three plays and scored,? Thierolf said. ?Taylor really did a nice job there and we had, obviously, good blocks.
?Adam Janzen ran a great play fake, and so I was pleased with that.?
The Warriors scored their final touchdown after a botched Ell-Saline punt gave Marion the ball at the Cardinal 1-yard line. Trevor Kruse pounded his way into the end zone, and Case tacked on the kick for a 35-6 score with 9:12 left to play.
Marion escaped a second Cardinal score when Ell-Saline fumbled the ball at the Warrior 1-yard line, and Marion added the final blow when Zach Robson intercepted a Cardinal pass with 1:50 to go, nailing down the 35-6 victory.
?I?m pleased we were able to respond against a good football team,? Thierolf said. ?Ell-Saline?s going to win their share of games, and we need to make certain that we just continue to get better.?
Marion rushed for 236 yards, led by Heidebrecht with 140 yards and on 12 carries. Through the air, Heide?brecht was 3-for-9 for 126 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.
Seth Snelling and Kyle Palic led the defense, each with five first hits and nine assists. Kruse had seven first hits and four assists, while Jones had five first hits and four assists.
Coming?Marion (1-0) will travel to Sedgwick (1-0) Friday for another league game. Last week, Sedgwick defeated Olpe, 57-35.