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Warriors stumble in season finale

Schneider goes down in first half, Stringer steps up in second half rally

News editor

The 2016 Marion football campaign ended Thursday at Hesston, where the Warriors came out on the short end in a 57-24 loss.

Quarterback Jack Schneider’s season ended three quarters earlier than anyone else’s.

With the Warriors trailing 14-2 but driving at the Hesston 24-yard line, Schneider carried the ball wide right, angling toward the sideline.

Personnel holding sideline yardage and down markers are supposed to drop them and clear out when players are headed toward them. Inexplicably, one holding the down marker stood his ground, pole firmly planted, as Schneider crossed the boundary and hit the pole with a knee.

The impact bent the pole, and left Schneider writhing in pain with a season-ending knee injury.

With outside speedster Corbin Wheeler shifting to quarterback, Hesston defenders crowded the line and effectively neutralized Marion’s offense in the second quarter. The Swathers’ offense took advantage of good field position to put up three more touchdowns to lead 35-2.

As the final seconds of the half ticked away, coach Grant Thierolf challenged his players, telling them, “We’ve got to get back in this somehow; somebody’s got to make a play.”

The Warriors came out for the third quarter ready to deliver.

On the first play from scrimmage, Aaron Riggs ripped off a 46-yard carry from the Marion 13 to the Hesston 41.

At quarterback was Chase Stringer, who led the junior varsity to a 5-1 record. He lost 3 yards on two running attempts, but then unleashed a high-arching bomb in the direction of a streaking Brice Shults. The ball’s trajectory gave Shults time to adjust his route and make the catch for a touchdown. Stringer ran in the conversion.

Noah Albin wrecked the Swathers’ next possession with an 18-yard sack of the Hesston quarterback, and an interception two plays later by Mason Pedersen set the Warriors up on their own 40.

On third-and-4 at the Marion 46, Stringer dropped back and launched a deep throw down the right side to Shults, who hauled it in and ran for 54-yard touchdown. Riggs punched in the conversion, closing the gap to 35-18.

After the ensuing kickoff, Marion’s defense stonewalled the Swathers on three plays, forcing a punt.

Pederson fielded the kick at the Marion 30 and didn’t stop running until he was in the Hesston end zone.

“He made a couple of moves, shook a tackle, and then just set sail down the sideline and outran everybody,” Thierolf said.

Riggs couldn’t score the conversion, but at 35-24 with 5:07 left in the third quarter, hopes were high for a shocking comeback.

Hesston would have none of it. After covering an onside kick attempt at the 50, they took just 6 plays to answer with a touchdown and point after. The Swathers forced and recovered a fumble on Marion’s next possession, and a 31-yard scoring pass and 2-point conversion put them ahead 50-24 at the end of the quarter.

A late fourth-quarter Hesston touchdown and extra point finished off a 57-24 loss and Marion’s season.

“It’s a blow in the first half when you lose a kid of Jack’s abilities, and it just took us a little bit of time to rebound,” Thierolf said. “Chase is a good quarterback. He’d be playing for a lot of teams in our league. It was nice to get him some opportunities. I was glad the kids came back.”

Stringer was 5-of-9 passing for 160 yards and 2 touchdowns, both to Shults, who had 100 yards receiving. Riggs had 97 yards rushing on 19 carries.

The Heart of America league champion Warriors finished the season with a 7-2 record.

Last modified Nov. 3, 2016

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