Marion defensive back Mason Pedersen’s jersey was prophetic Friday.
No. 6 came up with a pick-6 touchdown on Moundridge’s third play from scrimmage, and the Warriors rolled from there, defeating the visiting Wildcats 26-0 at Warrior Stadium.
“It was third-and-long and I knew they were going to pass,” Pedersen said. “They like to go deep, so I went back, and I saw the quarterback’s eyes. He made a bad pass and I jumped on it.”
The Warriors offense got off to a quick start, too, capping an 84-yard drive on its first possession with an Aaron Riggs 5-yard touchdown plunge. With 3 minutes, 29 seconds left in the first quarter, Marion was up 14-0.
It was a different story in the second quarter, as the Warriors squandered two opportunities inside the Wildcats 20 with fourth-down miscues.
“I don’t think we let down, but our focus wasn’t where it needed to be,” coach Grant Thierolf said.
Stingy defense, including a goal line stand at the start of the second half and fumble recoveries by Jeremy Hett and Jarret McLinden, kept the Wildcats at bay.
Nose guard McLinden said a new defensive set was key to holding the Wildcats to 92 yards for the game.
“We were working on speed rather than power,” McLinden said. “I think it gave us a confidence boost.”
“It’s a new front for us; the intent is to get more speed on the field,” he said. “The more we recognize where our fits are as linebackers and defensive linemen, the more we’ll improve.”
Starting at their own 9 after the successful goal line stand, the Warriors gave the Wildcats a steady dose of Riggs right, Riggs middle, Riggs left as they moved to the Moundridge 38. Quarterback Jack Schneider connected with Pederson on a sideline route at the 8, and three plays later Schneider swept around left end for a touchdown.
Marion’s final score came after McLinden recovered a fumble at the Moundridge 6, with Riggs scoring on a plunge over the right side.
“Between Garrett Hoffner, Jeremy Hett, and Cade Harms, we just felt more comfortable running to the right,” Thierolf said. “Aaron’s an equal opportunity guy; wherever he gets it, he’s going to hit the hole hard.”
Riggs ran for 149 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries, accounting for nearly half of the Warriors’ 310 total yards for the game.
The Warriors will be on the road at Inman on Friday.