Football playoffs: Marion Local’s quick start dooms Coldwater

The Marion Local and Coldwater football programs are so familiar with each other, it’s a challenge for each of those Midwest Athletic Conference rivals to find an edge.

The coaching staffs cemented working relations long ago. That was a given, considering the multiple times both teams played for state championships in the same seasons, although in different divisions.

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The two rosters are loaded with cousins. Fathers vs. brothers and uncles? You bet.

That’s why payback, revenge and “guns blazin’ ” were the frequent Flyers’ go-to terms.

“We said all week in practice, we wanted to get our revenge,” Marion Local quarterback Nathan Bruns admitted after fueling a 40-19 beatdown of Coldwater in Friday night’s Division VI, Region 24 final at Sidney’s Memorial Stadium. “Coach (Tim Goodwin) said he wanted to come out guns blazin’ and that’s what we did. We came out guns blazin’ and took our big shots.”

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The victory vaults Marion Local (12-1) into the Week 14 state semifinals against Attica Seneca East (12-1) next Friday, likely at Lima Senior Stadium. East advanced by dodging Sherwood Fairview 26-21 also on Friday.

The other D-VI state semi is Beverly Fort Frye (12-0) against Kirtland (13-0). The semifinal winners advance to the season-ending state championship at Canton in Week 15.

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Bruns took “blazin’” to first-quarter perfection. By the end of the opening 12 minutes he had three touchdown passes, a 21-0 lead and a potential rout brewing.

And no surprise in how the Flyers’ lead quickly grew. Bruns, a 6-foot-6 senior who signed to play basketball at the University of Findlay this week, hit 6-4 senior receiver Nick Tangeman on scoring passes of 38 and 18 yards.

An interception later, it took Bruns just one play to lob a 50-yard TD toss to Peyton Otte. Bruns also ran 14 yards for another third-quarter score. That’s four “blazin’” scores for Bruns.

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Up 21-0, it was a reversal of the Week 10 showdown that Marion Local lost 26-20 in double overtime at Coldwater. The Flyers committed four first-half turnovers in that game and trailed 20-0 at halftime.

“That’s a little different,” Marion Local coach Tim Goodwin said. “We saw a couple things and we shot a couple shots and they connected. Sometimes they connect and sometimes they don’t.”

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Coldwater (10-3) rallied around junior quarterback Jake Hemmelgarn’s two TD passes to pull within 27-19 midway through the fourth quarter. A long pass from Bruns to Tangeman, a missed tackle and a short touchdown plunge by Brandon Fleck put the Cavaliers away.

Bruns completed 15 of 22 passes for 287 yards and those three scores. Hemmelgarn was good on 22 of 36 attempts for 144 yards and two scores. Tangeman had nine catches for 150 yards receiving.

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So Marion Local wins the defining rematch against Coldwater. A two-time defending D-VI state champ, the Flyers will be favored to win again.

That’s how it is at the wee village of Maria Stein, where state titles define great Flyers teams. Marion Local has played for 16 state football championships and won 10. Bruns and running back Matt Rethman were starters and Tangeman the top sub on the Flyers’ boys state championship basketball team last March.

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Tough opponent, those Flyers.

“When you dig yourself a hole, it’s tough,” shrugged Coldwater coach Chip Otten. “We did a good job on the run, but they have a lot of weapons and can do a lot of things. We just gave up too many big plays.”

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