The Marion High School football team won its first playoff game in 10 years Tuesday against Hutchinson Trinity Catholic High School, by the same 10-0 margin as its last postseason win.
Rain made it difficult for players to handle the ball early on, and by the second half neither team could move into scoring position.
“It was crazy,” fullback Adam Janzen said. “It was muddy and they were flowing to the ball, but we were just reading our blocks.”
Marion began the game with the ball, but was forced into a fourth-down at its own 44 after five plays.
The next snap sailed over punter Caleb Williams’ head, which he chased, picked up, and then kicked back to the Warrior 38. The punt netted negative-6 yards.
The Warrior defense regained possession on the next play, though, when Kyle Palic separated the Celtic fullback from the ball after it began slipping from his grip. Grif Case recovered the ball at the Marion 40-yard line.
Marion went three-and-out on its next drive, punting to Trinity’s 18. The Warriors subsequently held the Celtics to a three-and-out, and when the punt snap went over the kicker’s head on fourth down, he kicked it out of the end zone for a safety. The Warriors led 2-0 with 4 minutes and 48 seconds left in the first quarter.
From their own 42, the Warriors went to work on their next drive, running the ball on three consecutive plays for a first down in Trinity territory.
Janzen took the next handoff up the middle for 32 yards on the next play, and quarterback Taylor Heidebrecht finished the drive with a 7-yard run two plays later.
After running back Trevor Kruse ran for the 2-point conversion, the Warriors led 10-0 with 2:00 left in the quarter.
From that point, both teams struggled to move the ball into scoring range. The Warriors’ last attempt at points came on a rare field goal attempt at the end of the second quarter that fell short from 37 yards out.
“It was one of those games, that after we got up 10-0, I didn’t feel we were going to let them score,” Marion head coach Grant Thierolf said.
If the weather was a factor in the first half, it only got worse as the rain picked up even more at the beginning of the third quarter.
Both teams went back-and-forth, punting and playing for field position well into the fourth quarter.
The Warriors committed their only turnover late in the fourth when Heidebrecht could not field a bouncing punt. The Celtics recovered the ball at the Marion 32, immediately moving 16 yards on a pass into the flat. Morgan Wheeler sacked the Trinity quarterback two plays later though, forcing third-and-19. The Celtics turned the ball over on downs, and Marion ran out the clock.
“You love games like that,” Thierolf said. “We have a pretty resilient bunch. Nothing much bothers them.”
The Warriors play next at 2 p.m. Saturday in Sedgwick. The Warriors only loss came to the Cardinals Sept. 13, 35-14.