Marion High School Warrior running back Colten Johnson exploded for 238 yards and four touchdowns as the Warriors got the 2011 season off to a fast start by crushing the Lyons Lions 34-0 at Marion on Friday night.
The Warriors set the tone for the game at the outset with a methodical 85-yard scoring drive. Mikael Antoszyk’s 13-yard run on fourth down from the Lions 22 led to Johnson’s 4-yard scoring plunge, putting Marion up 6-0.
“It’s always nice to take that first drive of the year down and score,” said head coach Grant Thierolf.
The Warriors had little time to savor that touchdown before going right back on offense, after Lyons fumbled on its second play and Marion recovered at the Lyons 28. Five plays later, Marion quarterback Cole Lewman slipped through the right side of the line for a 6-yard score, and Johnson added the two-point conversion for a 14-0 lead.
Another long Marion drive stalled out with an incomplete pass on fourth down from the Lyons 14 early in the second quarter. Running backs Lukas Padilla and Ryon Thurston split the load as the Lions pushed to their own 40 before being shut down by the Warrior defense, which allowed Lyons only 103 total yards for the game.
An errant punt gave Marion the ball on the Lyons 46, and the Warriors immediately gave back 10 yards with consecutive penalties, two of eight miscues on the evening.
First-and-20 presented little problem for the Warriors on a night Johnson, Antozyk, and Brody Carroll each averaged more than 10 yards a carry. Antozyk had the big gainer in the drive, a 33-yard tote around the right side, and Marion’s offensive line blew open a gaping hole for Johnson’s 1-yard scoring plunge. Grif Case kicked the extra point to increase the Warrior lead to 21-0.
Johnson was quick to praise his teammates after the game for their effort.
“The offensive line did the best I’ve ever had,” said Johnson.
Lyons got a late-half boost when Thurston returned the ensuing kickoff to Lyons 49. But any hope for a last-second score was dashed when Warrior linebacker Cory Hiebert streaked in to crush quarterback Luis Rascon before he could get off a pass, ending the first half.
Marion forced a punt on Lyons’ first series of the second half, setting the Warriors up with excellent field position at the Marion 48.
Following an incomplete pass, Johnson took the ball around the left side and set sail for the end zone, a 52-yard scamper to raise the Marion margin to 27-0, with 9:44 remaining in the third quarter.
As the third quarter ended, Marion’s offense was struggling. Two penalties, a fumble, and an incomplete pass in seven plays caused the Warriors to lose ground to their own 24 yard line.
Facing a seemingly insurmountable third-and-25, Johnson got the call for the first play of the fourth quarter. Running through the middle and then cutting left, Johnson blazed past a group of would-be tacklers for an electrifying 76-yard touchdown. Case made the extra point to cap the score at 34-0.
On a night where the game time temperature was in the mid-90s, Johnson credited his summer conditioning for the second-half speed he displayed on his touchdown runs.
“Coach Thierolf pushed us all summer to be in shape,” Johnson said.
Thierolf went one step further, praising Johnson’s work ethic.
“Colten’s a great example for the rest of the kids,” Thierolf said. “He’s out here on Saturday and Sunday running stairs, doing sprints, stretching, working on his flexibility, doing all the things great athletes do – they put in time on their own to become better.”
Marion amassed 404 total yards for the game, 374 yards rushing and 32 passing. Johnson led Marion rushers with 238 yards, complemented by Antoszyk with 63 and Carroll with 47. Lewman was 3-for-9 throwing the ball, completing passes to Jacob Harper, Antoszyk, and Carroll.
Defensively, Jon Tacha and Hiebert led the way with six solo tackles each, and 10 and 9 total tackles respectively. David Helmer and Caleb Williams both contributed 7 total tackles.
Thierolf was pleased overall with his team’s performance for a season-opening game.
“I thought our defense by and large played very, very well,” he said. “For a first time in this offense, blocking against a different defense against different kids we haven’t seen, we did OK. We just have to get more consistent.”
The Warriors will seek to improve their consistency this Friday when they travel to Inman for a 7 p.m. game against the Teutons.