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‘Terrible Tribe’ laid foundation for Marion’s sports greatness

Times haven’t been the kindest to Marion High School athletics as of late, but the school has a storied history.

Marion captured a state title in 1968, and former coach Grant Thierolf fielded that including a state runner-up 26 years later. 

A big part of Marion’s success in football could be attributed to a Terrible Tribe team 98 years ago. At a time when classes were not divided, there was no mercy rule to spare teams severe beatings. 

In 1921, Marion’s Terrible Tribe went unbeaten, and Marion picked up where it left off in the 1922 season-opener, steamrolling Burns, 125-0.

The worst was yet to come. 

Marion’s rivalry with neighboring Hillsboro may have begun on Sept. 30 that year. The Terrible Tribe’s 205-0 assault on Hillsboro became the sixth highest-scoring high school football game in history.

Marion’s historic lashing of Hillsboro now is the sixth highest-scoring high school game ever, with Kansas accounting for half of the nation’s six highest-scoring games. 

Marion kept right on rolling, mauling Peabody, and Rice County’s Chase, by a combined 116-6 margin, before running into the Central Kansas champion, McPherson. 

McPherson was no sweat either, with the Terrible Tribe easily prevailing 44-6, but it marked the last time Marion beat an opponent by more than four touchdowns. 

Bigger schools provided more of a challenge, but Marion ran its streak to 8-0 heading into the final two weeks of the season with 13-0, 27-0, and 14-0 wins over El Dorado, Newton, and Lindsborg. 

The perfect season came crashing down the last two weeks against Hutchinson and Emporia by 13-7 and 10-0 scores, but by outscoring the opposition 551-35, the Terrible Tribe set a standard for excellence at Marion High School. 

It wasn’t until the mid-’20s that Warriors replaced the Terrible Tribe mascot, even though many of the players were referred to as such. 

Last modified Sept. 24, 2020

 

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