The special impact of seniors Nathan Bruns and Nick Tangeman isn’t lost on Marion Local football coach Tim Goodwin.
Bruns, the Flyers’ 6-foot-6 quarterback, appears pint-sized when he bends low over center Reece Eifert to receive the snap. Then the fun begins.
Tangeman, a 6-4 receiver with deceptive speed and exceptional route-running and passing-catching ability, often is the go-to target for those good times.
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They are big-time standouts at the small-school high school state football power.
“Athletes like this don’t come around that often,” marveled Goodwin following last week’s 40-19 knockout of Midwest Athletic Conference rival Coldwater at Sidney. “That’s 6-6 and throwing to 6-4. They’re pretty special for our level.”
Marion Local (12-1) has extended another special season to the Week 14 Division VI state semifinals against Attica Seneca East (12-1) at Lima Spartan Stadium on Friday at 7 p.m. Also on Friday it’s Alter (12-1) vs. Norwalk (10-3) in a D-III state semifinal at Wapakoneta. On Saturday, Fort Loramie (12-1) is paired against McComb (12-1) also at Wapak.
Marion Local will be heavily favored to win and play for another state championship. Here’s why:
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A two-time defending D-VI state champion, Marion Local has amassed 10 state football titles in 16 championship appearances. That’s just one title behind the state’s all-time leader, Cleveland St. Ignatius.
Thanksgiving Day practice is a given at the Flyers’ home base of Maria Stein in Mercer County. The Flyers have a streak of seven state-title appearances going. That’s 105 games in each of those seasons, 15 apiece. The seniors on the previous four Flyers teams all dressed for 60 varsity football games.
That abundance of extra Friday night experience is invaluable to building and maintaining a football dynasty. Bruns, Tangeman and a talented cast of many take that to blue and gold heart.
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Bruns torched Coldwater, completing 15 of 21 passes for 284 yards and three touchdowns.
Tangeman had nine catches for 167 yards, including TD receptions that covered 38 and 18 yards. His 41-yard catch-and-run set up another score.
Theirs is a special connection that has yet to be stopped. In the 2017 state title game, Tangeman was good for six catches from Bruns for 120 yards and two scores. Every team Marion Local faced this season knew what was coming and had no answer. Lean on the Flyers’ passing game and running backs Nolan Habadasz, Matt Rethman and Brandon Fleck take over.
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These are special times in Flyers’ sports history. Bruns will divert that take-charge ability to the University of Findlay, where he’ll play basketball. Tangeman is drawing small-school interest and remains uncommitted. Should he choose to pursue football, some program should pinch itself as lucky.
Both will be starters when basketball makes its annual delayed start. Marion Local is the defending D-IV state champ in hoop, too.
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“It’s motivation,” Bruns said as Tangeman was lit up by Lima television cameras in the middle of Sidney’s Memorial Stadium. “You know it’s going to be your last year (of football). You’re out here with all your classmates, so you’ve got to make the most of it.”
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