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Marion wins district title with 72-point explosion

Staff writer

The records were the same. The records were deceiving.

In a battle of two 5-3 teams touting undefeated district runs, Marion scored early, often, and more than they have in decades in a 72-14 win over Mission Valley to secure the district crown and a home game in the first round of the playoffs.

Head coach Grant Thierolf said it was the most Marion has ever scored in his 27-year tenure as head coach.

The Warriors outscored opponents 226-38 over four games in district play, and finished the regular season with a 6-3 record.

The Warriors played a sound game at all levels. When the run was stuffed in the middle, Marion took advantage by going outside, where receivers held their blocks. The defense, led by Kyle Palic, was stout and fearsome. The offensive line paved the way for several big runs.

Senior Adam Janzen had two scores, including a 74-yarder that carried him over 1,000 yards for the season, his second 1,000-yard season in a row.

“We’ve always known he was going to be a good running back,” Thierolf said. “He’s a great linebacker, too, a great punter. He’s just a great all-around football player.

“He’s one of those guys that you center your team around because he’s a tough, hard-nosed kid. Football’s that type of game.”

Baldwin, meanwhile, did something he hasn’t done all year: score a touchdown with the ball in his hands, instead of by virtue of passing it to receivers.

Of course, he did that, too.

Mason Pedersen, Brad Stone, and Corbin Wheeler all caught touchdowns from Baldwin, who had a season high 139 yards passing on the evening.

Mission Valley’s second offensive possession ended with a punt Marion blocked and converted into Janzen’s first score. Thirteen seconds of game time later, the Vikings botched a snap and Tyler Neufeld recovered for a touchdown and a 14-0 lead.

“Our defense did a good job to get us short fields, so we took that advantage,” Janzen said.

Then came Baldwin’s first rushing touchdown of the season, which was followed shortly afterward by his 67-yarder to Stone, as Marion ended the first quarter up 30-0.

The rout continued in the second quarter with the 37-yarder to Pedersen and Janzen’s big run to put Marion up 44-0. A crafty run by quarterback Tanner Allen, in which he ran to one side of the field before reversing field and ultimately running down the other sideline, set up Mission Valley’s first touchdown of the night, an Allen run.

Baldwin responded by charging 61 yards through the heart of the Mission Valley defense, stiff-arming would-be tacklers and picking up downfield blocks from Pedersen and Wheeler to secure a score. Another touchdown pass to Wheeler with 7 seconds left gave Marion a 58-7 halftime lead.

“We had a lot of kids just play hard tonight,” Thierolf said. “It was just a fun night all around.”

First-time scorers Aaron Riggs and Jarrett Johnson excited the Marion bench amid a running clock in the second half.

Baldwin finishes the regular season with 11 touchdown passes and 505 yards on 20-of-26 throwing. Janzen finishes the year with 1,054 yards on 155 carries. But stats are secondary for the Warriors as the playoffs loom. The goal now is to keep playing.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Janzen said. “I’m a little nervous because, I don’t know, but it’s my senior year and I don’t want it to end yet.”

Marion will play Lyndon at 7 p.m. Friday at Warrior Stadium.

“I think we played well tonight,” Thierolf said. “I hope we play better next week.”

Last modified Nov. 6, 2014

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