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Swinehart, Tigers take out Warriors 61-40

Staff writer

At the most severe inconvenience to the Marion Warriors, Friday night belonged to Lyndon’s Dawson Swinehart.

Himself accruing more than 400 yards of offense, the Lyndon senior signed, in penmanship that would dwarf John Hancock’s, the death certificate of Marion’s 2014 season, a 61-40 defeat at home in the regional round of the KSHSAA playoffs.

It was a game Marion expected to win.

“They did everything that we thought they’d do, they just did it better than we thought they did it,” head coach Grant Thierolf said.

Afterward, maybe it was shock, or maybe it was the inevitable sadness brought on by any meaningful goodbye, teary-eyed senior players and even some underclassmen exchanged hugs, celebrating one final time the bond that had been forged over the grind of their 6-4 season.

“It didn’t end the way we wanted,” said senior quarterback Jacob Baldwin, trying to keep his emotions from interrupting his speech as teammates came up to praise his leadership. “But we ended it like Warriors, and I’m proud of all of us.”

Baldwin had 8 completed passes for 167 yards and two touchdowns, and 31 yards rushing.

“What a great leader,” Thierolf said, reflecting on Baldwin. “There’s a kid who is willing to do whatever is necessary for the team.”

Baldwin was the Warriors’ tight end to start the year, and took over when freshman quarterback Jack Schneider got injured midway through the season. He and senior running back Adam Janzen were a fearsome power-running tandem, which was a slight change from Schneider’s more speedy style.

While Baldwin was the leader when the huddle broke, Janzen was the one to follow once the ball was snapped.

The senior running back had a fantastic finale, netting 237 yards and 4 touchdowns on 24 carries.

After Lyndon’s first drive was quick-paced and methodical, Janzen answered in thunderous tones, taking a handoff from Jacob Baldwin and rushing up the middle for a 71-yard score as Lyndon defenders slid off his shoulder pads.

In a back and forth battle, the turning point came fairly early — once Marion blinked, Lyndon took the lead and ran with it.

After surrendering a 20-14 lead with 5 minutes, 29 seconds to play in the first half, Marion received the ball trailing by a point looking to edge back ahead. Instead, a fumbled handoff exchange led to a 22-yard Daniel Burgess touchdown run for Lyndon, and Marion went from controlling the game to playing catch up.

Marion never caught up.

A fake extra point failed, leaving Marion trailing by seven, but after giving up possession, Lyndon — Swinehart — scored with 1:01 for the team’s third unanswered touchdown in 4 1/2 minutes of game time.

Swinehart accounted for seven touchdowns on the ground and through the air Friday. He also kicked extra points. And punted. And led Lyndon in tackling.

“If he’s not All-State, I’m going to be mad,” Baldwin said. “He dominated the game in every aspect.”

Lyndon had the advantage of receiving the opening kickoff in the second half, and added another touchdown just 67 seconds in to stretch to 27 unanswered points before Marion’s offense bounced back with a 43-yard score from Janzen.

Each team scored three third quarter touchdowns to push the score to 55-40. Once the Warriors got the stop they had longed for all game long, they couldn’t take advantage, turning the ball over on downs. After trading possessions as the time slipped away, Josh Payne intercepted Baldwin and scored to seal the game for Lyndon.

In a postgame address to his team, Thierolf praised his seniors, and individually praised Brad Stone, who personified the Warriors’ toughness, and Kyle Palic, the senior linebacker who will be suiting up on Saturdays next season in the college ranks. Thierolf thanked all the seniors — Baldwin, Janzen, Stone, Palic, Nathan Cyr, Seth Snelling, Dylan Carpenter, and Tyler Neufeld — for their four years.

Palic said Thierolf doesn’t just coach, but he teaches life lessons as well.

“He knows you can do better, and he pushes you to find out that you can,” he said. “There’s days you might hate the crap out of him, but in the end, you’ll thank him 100 percent all the way.”

After going 9-2 in 2013, some had lowered expectations for this year’s Warriors team. Despite the early playoff exit, the Warriors ended it with their heads held high.

“They doubted us and we kind of proved them wrong,” Palic said. “We had people step up and become men and play their butts off, and that’s all I can ask.”

Last modified Nov. 12, 2014

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