Marion Local’s defense took some hits with last week’s playoff opening win, some of the biggest from critics after the game.
So if the Flyers needed a spark — as much as a four-time, defending state champion needs one — Joel Goodwin picked the right time to provide it. The senior safety leaped to intercept West Liberty-Salem’s pass and returned it 60 yards for a touchdown as time expired to end the first half, giving Marion Local a 27-0 lead.
Marion Local tacked on another TD in the second half for 34-0 victory in the Division VI, Region 22 semifinals at Wapakoneta.
“Whenever you score right before the half, especially with a score like that, that was tough on them,” Marion Local coach Tim Goodwin said.
The Flyers (12-0) set up their first touchdown, a 3-yard run by Aaron Nietfeld, with linebacker Joe Wuebker’s interception.
“When you play a team the caliber of Marion Local you have to make plays in critical moments,” West Liberty-Salem coach Dan McGill said. “We’d have two great defensive plays then one missed tackle. Offensively we’d move forward then take a sack.”
The Ohio Heritage Conference has seen its struggles against Midwest Athletic Conference teams. The MAC improved to 22-0 overall against the OHC and 19-0 in the postseason.
The OHC gets another shot at the MAC next week. Mechanicsburg plays Marion Local in a battle of unbeatens at 7 p.m. Saturday for the Region 22 championship. The neutral site will be announced Sunday afternoon by the Ohio High School Athletic Association.
“I like where we’re at right now,” Goodwin said. “I think we’re going to have a heck of a tussle with Mechanicsburg. I don’t know how that’s going to go. Our kids are being Marion Local kids so they’re fun to coach.”
West Liberty-Salem (9-3) trailed 13-0 at the end of the first quarter and 20-0 late in the second. The Tigers drove to midfield and tried to grab some momentum with a pass down the sideline. But Goodwin was sitting on the route. He raced nearly untouched down the Flyers’ sideline for the score.
“You’re down 20-0 and I asked our kids to play as hard as they possibly can,” McGill said. “We thought it was important to try and get some points on the board. The kid made a nice play.”
The Tigers’ final chance to crack the end zone came in the fourth quarter. They drove to the Flyers’ 30, but a pass on fourth-and-13 feel incomplete.
“Their defensive pressure made it difficult for us to get our run game going,” McGill said. “Then that just puts pressure on the passing game. I’m proud of the seniors and I’m proud of their effort tonight, despite the outcome.
“(Marion Local) is as good of a team as we’ve ever played.”
Mechanicsburg 42, Delphos Jefferson 12: QB Kaleb Romero completed 9 of 11 passes for 224 yards and two touchdowns and also had 17 rushes for 188 yards in leading the Indians to a D-VI, Region 22 win at Sidney. Phillip Cook had four catches for 182 yards for Mechanicsburg (12-0), which led 28-6 at halftime.