Heavily advantaged in personnel and with much more to play for than the opposition, Marion outmanned and outgunned the Herington Railers, winning in a 50-6 rout.
Head coach Grant Thierolf said the Warriors, despite the final score, weren’t very sharp.
“For the most part it was a pretty — I don’t want to say ‘blah game’ — but we didn’t come out with a whole lot of fire and we didn’t come out with as much enthusiasm as it’s gonna take next week,” he said.
Jack Schneider and Aaron Riggs handled most of the work on the ground, combining for 240 yards and five rushing touchdowns. Schneider also passed for 155 yards and two touchdowns, both to Mason Pedersen.
Schneider has developed quite a rapport with Pedersen as the season has gone on.
“I’m very comfortable with (Pedersen) as a receiver,” Schneider said. “We just have a great connection. He’s got so much speed, and we just connect I guess. It’s kind of hard to explain.”
Schneider said he’s felt more comfortable with the passing game the last couple games.
“You’re just trying to use the athletes that you have,” Thierolf said, “and we have some pretty nice athletes. We had OK pass protection for the most part, we had a couple we should have completed that we didn’t. Some reads that probably could have been made to a different receiver.”
The pass protection suffered a blow early when senior Adam Kjellin exited the game with a knee injury on the first play from scrimmage. Thierolf said losing a team leader to injury early on didn’t help matters.
The Warriors struck first with a run by Schneider, and led 6-0 after a failed conversion attempt. The Railers surprised by punching back with a 55-yard touchdown pass on which the Warriors missed a coverage.
“We just misaligned and misplayed it,” Thierolf said. “There’s no other excuse for it. Obviously at that point, they made a nice throw and a nice catch.”
From there, the Warriors would dominate, outscoring the Railers 44-0 over the next two-and-a-half quarters. At 50-6, the officials implemented a running clock and the Warriors put in their junior-varsity against the Railers starters — not that the Railers had enough reserves to rest many players. When the Railers took the field, four players remained on the sideline.
“Their kids played awfully hard, their kids aren’t coming off the field, they’ve gotten beat up and everything,” Thierolf said. “And I thought their kids played really, really well, they just don’t have enough of them.”
Of near equal importance for the Warriors was a game in which they weren’t playing. Mission Valley and Northern Heights played, with Mission Valley winning. The result means Marion will have to win its final game of the year and come out on the right side of a point differential tiebreaker to make the playoffs.
“It would’ve been better for us if Northern Heights would have won because then it doesn’t come down to points, and now it comes down to points,” Thierolf said. “We’ll figure it out and do what we can.”