The Marion High School Warriors won the opening coin flip prior to the start of their district-playoff football game Friday against rival Hillsboro at Warrior Stadium.
It was almost the only thing that went right for the Warriors all evening, as they were outmatched and outplayed by the Trojans, 21-0, to bring their season to an abrupt and disappointing halt.
“We just obviously as coaches didn’t get them as ready and prepared as we could have, because we didn’t play our best,” Marion head coach Grant Thierolf said. “In big games you’ve got to play your best, and tonight we didn’t do it.
Hillsboro quarterback Luke Moore and wide receiver Shaq Thiessen were fourth-down magicians, connecting for all three Trojan touchdowns when each time it appeared the Warriors would get the ball back.
On the other side of the ball, Marion had their lowest offensive output of the season, mustering only 105 yards and six first downs, compared to 259 and 16 for the Trojans.
“We never once got into rhythm at all offensively,” Thierolf said.
“Give credit to Coach (Max)Heinrichs and his team — they kept us off balance all night long,” Thierolf said.
Marion’s lone serious scoring threat came at the close of the first half.
A fourth-down pass from Warrior Cole Lewman to Michael Antozyck kept alive a drive that started at the Marion 22-yard line, and set the Warriors up on the Hillsboro 15. Four plays later, on fourth-and-3 at the Trojan 8, the drive was killed when a mishandled snap resulted in Lewman being sacked at the Trojan 22.
Marion’s leading rusher Colten Johnson was held to just 64 yards on 16 carries. Brody Carroll added 16 yards on six carries, while Antozyk carried five times for 14 yards.
Lewman completed only two passes, one to Antozyck for 22 yards, and one to Carroll for 21 yards.
Johnson led the defensive effort with 11 total tackles, including two for a loss and one which caused a fumble. Corey Hiebert and Spencer Fugitt had 8 total tackles each, and Lewman had 7.
While disappointed with the loss, Thierolf was quick to highlight the growth and contributions of the seniors on the Warrior squad.
“We really appreciate the work our seniors have done — they’ve come a million miles as athletes, as students, and as people the last four years,” Thierolf said. “To not give them the opportunity to be in the playoffs is disappointing.”
The Warriors closed out the season with a record of 5-4.