Assessing his team’s debut game, Grant Thierolf started with the positives.
“We won,” he said. “It was not pretty by any stretch of the imagination, but the kids persevered, they did enough to win.”
Marion began its season by taking down Moundridge, 24-14.
The Warriors amassed 245 of their 290 total yards on the ground, with sophomore quarterback Jack Schneider completing just two passes, albeit one of them for a 21-yard score.
Running back Aaron Riggs was the workhorse for the Warriors, gaining 150 yards on 23 carries. Schneider added 52 yards on the ground over 14 attempts, and Corbin Wheeler added 43 yards on 6 carries.
The Warriors started the game hot with a 70-second scoring drive but cooled from there. After Schneider’s touchdown pass in the second quarter, the score was 16-0 at halftime.
“We’ve got really only one guy returning at the position he was at last year,” Thierolf said, referencing senior lineman Adam Kjellin. “It’s gonna take us a little time to get our guys playing next to each other.”
The theme of the night was newness. Marion had a scarcity of returning starters, Moundridge had a new coach whom the Warriors couldn’t scout.
“First time coach, new coach, we don’t have any film on anything that he’s done,” Thierolf said. “Some things caught us off guard.”
The Wildcats got the ball to start the second half and drove the ball methodically down the field by attacking the sides of the Warriors defense, eventually scoring to bring the game to 16-8. With new personnel at linebacker and in the secondary, the Warriors struggled to contain speedy Wildcat ball carriers.
Thierolf called out his defense after the five-minute drive.
“I was just disappointed in our physical response, I thought we’d be more physical,” he said. “They were a better football team than maybe we gave them credit for, they had something to do with that I think.”
A fourth-quarter Warriors drive finished with a Riggs score to put the score at 24-8 with six minutes, 38 seconds left in the game.
Moundridge scored once more, but failed the two-point conversion attempt and fell short in its comeback efforts.
“We’re gonna be OK,” Thierolf said. “Just a lot of young kids, we’re still playing with a lot of young kids.”
Marion travels to Hutchinson on Friday to face Trinity Catholic for its homecoming game.
“We’d better be ready to play physical,” he said. “Because they will be.”