The Marion High School Warriors opened district football play with a convincing 34 – 6 win Friday over Remington at Warrior Stadium, in a game shaped by big plays and key miscues.
Warrior Colten Johnson had another stellar performance, running for 223 yards and four touchdowns, including an 80-yard fourth-quarter score that slammed the door on any hope Remington had for a comeback.
Remington rolled up 438 yards of total offense, but had only one third-quarter touchdown to show for it against Marion’s “bend but don’t break” defense.
Marion grabbed the advantage at the outset when Lance Knolla returned a short opening kickoff to the Remington 41. The Warriors converted twice on fourth downs, the second when Johnson bulled into the end zone on fourth-and-goal from the Remington 7. Grif Case kicked the conversion for a 7-0 Warrior lead, with 6 minutes, 17 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Remington appeared to answer on the next possession when Bronco running back Hunter Hill broke through the middle of the line for a 60-yard touchdown, but Remington was penalized for a block in the back that nullified the score.
“That was a great effort play by James Jones to get in that position, not to draw the penalty, but to close down on the guy and have a chance to tackle him,” Marion head coach Grant Thierolf said. “Their kid was trying as hard as he could to get a block and let their quarterback score.”
Marion kept the Broncos scoreless when David Helmer swatted down a fourth-and-5 pass attempt from the Marion 10.
The Warriors used two big plays to march 90 yards for their next score. Dakin Ledford caught a 37-yard pass from Cole Lewman to advance to midfield. Three plays later, Brody Carroll found a seam in the Bronco defense and scored on a 34-yard run with 11:00 remaining in the second quarter. A Case kick made the score 14-0.
“We worked hard on that particular play running it the way it’s supposed to be run, and Brody ran it the way it’s supposed to be run,” Thierolf said. “You want to get vertical as soon as you see the seam, and Brody did it – that was a great play.”
Marion’s third score of the half was assisted by a 27-yard Ledford reception and a major penalty on Remington that quickly moved the ball to the Remington 12. Johnson broke two tackles to score on the next play, with only 51 seconds left on the clock. Carroll thwarted a last-second Bronco scoring attempt by intercepting a pass at the Warrior 1, and Marion went to the locker room with a 20-0 lead.
Remington’s lone touchdown came on the first drive of the second half, set up when Bronco quarterback Kyle Regier connected with receiver Casey Westerfied on a 58-yard pass to the Marion 3. After a false-start penalty, Regier scored from the Marion 6, but the Warriors stopped the two-point conversion attempt to preserve a 20-6 lead.
An interception, a fumble, and penalties kept Marion out of sync offensively until Johnson broke his 80-yard touchdown with 3:16 remaining. Two minutes later, Johnson shredded the Bronco defense for 34 yards and his fourth touchdown. Case kicks after both touchdowns made the final score 34-6.
“I thought we got into a rhythm in the first half, and somehow or another we lost that rhythm in the second half,” Thierolf said. “They made a big pass play on us and scored on their first drive of the second half, and we kind of reeled from there for a little bit.
“It was one of those games where I never felt we were in danger of losing it, but it was one of those where we never quite finished it off,” Thierolf said.
“They threw the ball better than what we thought they were going to, and then they gashed us on the run, too. We’ve just got to play better,” Thierolf concluded.
Marion ran 26 fewer plays than did the Broncos, but still managed to gain 383 total yards. In addition to Johnson, Carroll rushed for 43 yards, and Lewman had 34 yards. Ledford had Marion’s only two receptions, totaling 78 yards.
Remington’s passing attack led to Carroll topping the defensive chart with 10 total tackles to go along with his interception. Ledford had eight tackles, followed by Spencer Fugitt, Johnson, and Lewman with five each.
Next up for the Warriors is a trip Friday to Gypsum to take on Southeast of Saline. Game time is 7 p.m.